Belfast Telegraph

Wes Hoolahan should not walk away, says Martin O'Neill

By Daniel McDonnell

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill has urged Wes Hoolahan to abandon any thoughts of retiring from international football after Euro 2016.

The Norwich playmaker will be 34 by the time France comes around and said over the weekend that he would make a decision after the finals.

That surprised Northern Irishman O'Neill, who feels that the late starter at senior level - he only made his competitive debut in June 2013 - has the enthusiasm to contribute to the World Cup qualifying campaign.

"I'd be surprised," said O'Neill after the 2-2 draw with Slovakia on Tuesday night.

"There'd be no call from me to end his international career. In fairness, Wes is kind of a young player because he hasn't exactly played an awful lot of games. He has a young face, he'd pass for 18 or 19.

"If it comes to it and that's what he's feeling, then absolutely I would say to him there's no reason for him to consider that at this minute."

Hoolahan is under contract at Norwich until 2017 and is very settled in the area which means that the outcome of their relegation battle is unlikely to change his circumstances.

O'Neill will be unable to call on the services of Rob Elliot until the World Cup campaign with Newcastle confirming that the luckless goalkeeper will spend a number of months on the sidelines after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament in Tuesday's game with Slovakia.

The player has declared an intention to 'come back stronger' following the devastating setback and is planning to travel to France in the summer as a supporter.

"It's a major disappointment when he was playing so well," added O'Neill.

Belfast Telegraph