Belfast Telegraph

Rep of Ireland Martin O'Neill urging Gibson to stop risking Everton career

By Daniel McDonnell

Martin O'Neill has warned Darron Gibson that his career is in danger of slipping away if he fails to sort out issues that have affected his standing at Everton.

The Londonderry-born midfielder has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons after he was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and banned from driving for 20 months following an accident near his home.

Gibson pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol, driving without due care and attention and failing to stop after a crash when he collided with three cyclists who had stopped to fix a broken chain.

The episode comes at a dreadful time for Gibson, who is on the sidelines, with his injury-plagued Everton career at a crossroads.

His last appearance came in March and he has made just 44 league outings for the Toffees since joining the club in January 2012, with a serious knee problem sustained on Republic duty setting off a disastrous run of luck.

Ahead of Friday's Euro 2016 qualifier with Gibraltar, O'Neill stressed that Gibson has a lot of work to do to get himself back on track.

"The number of games he has not played in the last couple of years is kind of worrying and you get to that stage when you are never properly fit," said O'Neill.

"And it looks like Darron, for one reason or another, has not been properly fit for some time.

"He's had very little football in close to two years and it's not as if he is 21 or 22 (he is 27). You are getting to the other edge."

Meanwhile, Eunan O'Kane has refused to explain why, after representing Northern Ireland at underage level, he chose to declare for the Republic four years ago.

The Bournemouth midfielder was playing for Torquay United at the time and like fellow Londonderry natives Gibson and James McClean, he exercised his right to switch allegiance.

Having lined out for Northern Ireland's Under-21s on four occasions, the 25-year-old went on to play for the Republic's equivalent three times in 2012.

When urged to recall his reasons for taking such a contentious path, O'Kane made it clear he had no interest in doing so.

"With that one, I've spoken about that four years ago," he said. "I think it's a little bit played out now, every time I do something like this, it's a question that's asked and I just want to move on from that. I hope people can let it go.

"People obviously want to know all about me, the football career is the thing people want to know about.

"I don't think they need to know the ins and outs of my personal decisions. I like to keep my personal life and personal decisions solely to me."

Belfast Telegraph