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Mar 8, 2011

Pennant wants call to play for Ireland

The Football Association of Ireland would consider handing Jermaine Pennant a chance to play international football for the country if he made contact with the governing body.

Stoke City winger Pennant has represented England at Under-21 level but has given up hope of winning senior caps for the country of his birth and indicated he wants to turn instead to Ireland, for whom he believes he qualifies through his grandfather.

"I'm 28, I'm not getting any younger and I'd like to play international football, whether it's with England or Ireland," the former Arsenal and Liverpool midfielder told BBC Radio Stoke.

"I'd love to play for England but it's just never happened. I don't think it's going to happen, not because of my ability, but maybe misdemeanours in the past that have put that to a halt.

"They're looking at younger, up-and-coming talent which is great for England.

"Who's to say that Ireland can't get to the next World Cup? If I could be a part of that with Ireland, that would be great. If I've got a chance to play international football with Ireland, I'm going to take it with both hands.

"They've asked previously and I said 'I want to try and play for England', but I never closed the door on it. I actually looked into it and texted my agent. I think he's contacted them to say 'he's eligible to play and he's interested', so we'll see what happens."

Nottingham-born Pennant was jailed in 2005 for a drink-driving offence and at one point, played a game wearing an electronic tag following his release. He has since rebuilt his career and is currently back in England after a spell with Real Zaragoza in Spain.

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has worked hard to increase the depth of his squad during his time in charge with Pennant's Stoke team-mates Glenn Whelan, Marc Wilson and Jon Walters among the beneficiaries.

However, the Italian is currently well served for wide midfielders with Damien Duff, Aiden McGeady, Liam Lawrence, Stephen Hunt, Keith Fahey and Andy Keogh having all played there for their country and Everton youngster Seamus Coleman emerging as a real talent.

Trapattoni's men resume their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign at home to Macedonia later this month having endured mixed fortunes to date.

Victories over Armenia and Andorra were followed by a defeat at the hands of Russia and a draw in Slovakia, and that has left them in second place in Group B behind the Russians, but only on goal difference.

Ireland finished behind then reigning champions Italy in World Cup qualification and eventually missed out on a trip to last summer's finals in South Africa after a controversial play-off defeat by France.

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