Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane was at the Britannia Stadium this afternoon as he took in Stoke City’s 1-1 draw with Everton.
Keane has been kept busy with scouting duties over the festive period and today’s game was his fourth in less than a week. The Corkman almost certainly filled a notebook with observations as five Irish players are in action from the start.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez had James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman in his XI while Potters’ manager Mark Hughes gave starts to Irish trio Marc Wilson, Glen Whelan and Jon Walters. Stephen Ireland was on the City bench but did not get an outing.
The first-half was a tame affair at the Britannia with just three shots on goal between the two teams. Belgian international Kevin Mirallas went closest for the Toffess but his drive was well saved by Tomas Sorenson. Mirallas also hit the bar with a free-kick with teammate Romelu Lukaku heading the rebound wide.
Stoke hit the front on 49 minutes when Oussama Assaidi blasted home from 20 yards out. McCarthy was replaced by Nikica Jelavic on 72 minutes as Everton chased the game. Their attacking intentions were rewarded in injury time as Leighton Baines tucked home a penalty in injury time as the match ended 1-1.
Ireland boss Martin O’Neill was at Selhurst Park for some scouting duty as Crystal Palace take on Norwich City. Damien Delaney is in the Palace defence while Wes Hoolahan was named in the Canaries midfield by Chris Hughton.
The former Shelbourne midfielder played an instrumental part in City’s opener, scored by Bradley Johnson, but also picked up a first-half booking. The game was level after Jason Puncheon scored a 44th minute penalty for the home side. Gary Hooper went closest to snatching the game for Norwich but they were happy for the point after Leroy Fer was red-carded.
O’Neill cast an eye of Norwich winger Nathan Redmond. The Birmingham-born teenager has played for England U21 team but holds dual nationality and may be tempted to switch allegiances if O’Neill can make a convincing argument.