Early Doors

Stephen Ireland’s ‘dead’ granny urges Ireland to pick him

Early Doors

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Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane has been urged to recall Stephen Ireland – by the grandmother the Stoke midfielder once claimed was dead.

Ireland has been in international exile since a controversial moment in 2007 when he left the Irish squad before a big match in the Czech Republic after claiming his maternal grandmother had died.

The FAI chartered a plane for him to return to Cork, but it was later revealed that Ireland's grandmother was alive and well.

Ireland then claimed it was his paternal grandmother who had died and then when that story didn't check out, he said it was his grandfather's second wife who had passed away, but once more this was proven to be false.

He eventually admitted that he made up the excuse so he could visit his girlfriend, who had reportedly had a miscarriage.

Now Keane has revealed that he shared a flight to Cork with Ireland's alive and well grandmother, where the topic of her grandson returning to the Ireland set-up was brought up.

"Well, I spoke with the grandmother this morning, she was on the flight coming over – and she asked me would he get back involved," Keane is quoted as saying in the Irish Independent.

"I couldn't lie to her. I said he'd have a chance if he's playing well. I think Martin (O'Neill) had a conversation with him, and all that needs to fall into place.

"We all know how talented Stephen is and Martin will look at that.

"We wouldn't be shutting the door on any player.

"What is important for any player, and Stephen is the same, is it does help to be playing week-in week-out.

"He's obviously had a difficult spell. He's only just got a run of games at Stoke now. So I certainly wouldn't be ruling anyone out."

Ireland said about 'Grannygate', which happened when Steve Staunton was Ireland manager, that: "I decided that I must tell the truth and admit I had told lies. I realise now it was a massive mistake to say my grandmothers had died and I deeply regret it."

There were constant rumours that Ireland would return to the Ireland set-up under Giovanni Trapattoni but no agreement between player and manager was ever met.

Ireland joined Stoke City on a permanent deal in the January transfer window after completing a successful loan spell from Aston Villa.

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