Belfast Telegraph

Given backs Republic in eligibility row

Shay Given has backed the recruitment of Northern Ireland-born players into the Republic of Ireland set-up and reckons any player eligible for inclusion should be actively pursued.

The IFA are furious at the loss of Everton defender Shane Duffy, whose father is from Donegal, following on from the defections of Darron Gibson and Marc Wilson when they were teenagers.

The IFA are heading for the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the matter, but Given says there should be no reticence from the FAI about approaching players from Northern Ireland.

“I could have played for Northern Ireland. My mother was from Castlederg in County Tyrone. If they come from the moon with an Irish grandparent and want to play for us, that's fine,” said Given, who extended that sentiment to English-born possibles such as Jamie O'Hara.

“Go back to the Jack Charlton era,” he continued. “A lot of player were English-based with Irish grandparents and that was the most successful time for Ireland.

“We've got to look at all avenues to try and get as many players as we can. It's up to the players to choose who they want to play for.”

Given would also be in favour of an All Ireland team similar to other sports, which would remove the debate entirely.

“Look at rugby, they are stronger with a 32-county outfit,” he said.

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