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21st Mar 2018

Midfielder rejects Ireland call-up to keep options open for England team

"He's born in England and wants to keep those options open"

Matthew Gault

He wants to keep his options open.

Martin O’Neill has pumped new blood into his Republic of Ireland squad for an international friendly against Turkey this Friday, but one face who turned down the chance of turning out in green was Liam Kelly.

O’Neill has confirmed that the Reading midfielder rejected a call-up to the Ireland squad. The highly-rated 22-year-old wants to keep his options open in case England come calling.

“I think wants to keep his options open at this minute,” O’Neill is quoted as saying in The Irish Times.

“Obviously, he’s born in England and wants to keep those options open and that’s fine. I did actually leave a message or two and he got back to me by text. Despite the fact that I knew where he was born, I thought that was okay. I spoke to his agent some quite considerable time ago and I think that was always going to be okay I felt (but) I’ve always said here it’s the player’s choice; it’s exactly what it is and if he wants to think that England might come in, that’s entirely his decision.”

Kelly has been a bright spark in Reading’s season and the 22-year-old has been compared to Andres Iniesta by Jaap Stam, his manager at club level. Reading are currently in 20th place in the Championship, three points above the relegation zone.