Troy Deeney has said this evening he is still exploring the possibility of playing for Northern Ireland but insists he won’t let international ambitions dilute his commitment to Watford.
The Hornets’ captain said on Saturday’s Soccer AM that he was re-examining the possibility of playing for Michael O’Neill’s side after an abortive attempt four years ago. He reaffirmed that on talkSPORT this evening.
“We are looking into that process,” he said on Drive with Adrian Durham and Darren Gough. “I don’t want go into too much detail and I had some on Twitter the other day thinking I’m being a clever guy to use this to help the England thing. There is a slim possibility something might happen [with Northern Ireland].”
Deeney, who was born in Birmingham, is also eligible to play for Jamaica.
“I’ve never been to Northern Ireland or Jamaica,” said Deeney. “If I was a fan of that team I’d be like: ‘Where were you when we weren’t great?’ Look at Kyle Lafferty, as an example. He’s been fantastic for them and then, just say, the manager puts me in for the first game of the Euros, the whole dressing room would go: ‘That’s a bit harsh’.”
Michael O’Neill said on Sunday that news of Deeney exploring his eligibility for Northern Ireland was news to him.
“You could dress this up and tell half-truths but the reality is nothing has changed,” he said in a press conference. “I spoke with Troy not long after I took the job. I was alerted to his potential eligibility and I had him watched. We were then informed that the eligibility wasn’t there so we didn’t pursue it any further. So the idea that we are suddenly speaking again is strange. Saturday’s news prompted a few texts and tweets but it is news to me. When we were informed that the route we believed made the player eligible no longer existed we didn’t explore it any further.
“It came down to the fact the bloodline was a generation too far back. That’s what we were told at the time. I’m not sure what the motives are behind Saturday’s comments but it’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought to. If a player is eligible and we feel he will strengthen the squad then of course we will look into it but it’s not something we’ve dwelt on.”
Asked if he plans to touch base with Deeney again, O’Neill said: “I don’t think there’s any point, unless the situation has changed. Maybe his granny has moved up a generation.”
Deeney has been contacted several times by Jamaica, with a view to him joining Lloyd Doyley in being capped by The Reggae Boyz, but the travelling has made it prohibitive for such a central figure to the team.
“We’ve got Paredes who is away with Ecuador,” Deeney said. “He doesn’t get back [from international duty] until Friday. Imagine me being captain and saying: ‘I’m off on international duty. I’ll see you the day before the Arsenal game.’ It’s difficult for me to be captain of the club and [then when you get back] you’ll be jet-lagged and won’t know any of the tactics. I’ve got to be thinking: ‘Am I doing Watford a disservice?’ I’ll never do anything to compromise that as they pay my wages and that’s my bread and butter.”
Deeney was at the talkSPORT studios in London for three hours this evening and left around an hour before England played Holland at Wembley.
“Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about it [being called up by England for the friendlies]” he said. “They’ve won ten games so why would he change that? I offer something different to other lads, that’s all I can say. If he adds me, fantastic. If he doesn’t, I’ve got to work harder. Simple. If I was to stop playing right now, today, and never kick a ball again would I be gutted? Yes. But I could look back and say I’ve done alright. International football will never be the making of me. I do want a bit of that but I’m a privileged man. If I don’t do that I’ll be on holiday in a wonderful destination and seeing my wife and kids having a great time.”