Puzzled Michael O’Neill plays down Troy Deeney comments

Watford's Troy Deeney
Watford's Troy Deeney

Michael O’Neill admits it would take a miraculous turn of events for Troy Deeney to represent Northern Ireland.

Deeney sparked mass speculation on Saturday when he claimed in a television interview that he was in talks with the Irish FA.

The Watford striker admitted on Sky Sports’ Soccer AM that his first choice was to play for England, but claimed he was also interested in wearing the green jersey of Northern Ireland.

Deeney had been on O’Neill’s radar four years ago when the Northern Ireland boss was alerted of the 27-year-old’s potential eligibility.

But it transpired that Deeney’s link was through his great-grandfather, and not his grandfather – meaning he did not qualify under FIFA rules.

Asked whether Deeney’s comments at the weekend would spark a renewed interest, O’Neill joked: “I don’t think there is any point – unless the situation has changed. Maybe his granny has moved up a generation.

“There is very little I can do about that.

“There are conversations we could have, but it is not high on my agenda. My focus is on the players I have here.”

O’Neill added: “When we were informed that the route that we believed made the player eligible no longer existed, we didn’t explore it any further.

“That came down to the fact that the bloodline was a generation too far back. That’s what we were told at the time.

“I am not sure what the motives are behind Saturday’s comments, but it is not something I have given a lot of thought to.

“Why did Troy made those comments? You would have to ask him that question.”