Joey Lapira “hopeful” of call-up as Ireland injuries mount

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Ireland manager Stephen Kenny may be forced to recall Joey Lapira from the international football wilderness due to a spate of injuries to his squad.

The now-34-year-old made his international debut in 2007 when then-manager Steve Staunton found his squad so depleted on a US tour he handed out caps to anyone he could find who had seen The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

And now the injury curse has struck the Boys in Green again, as four more players – Caoimhín Kelleher, Kevin Long, Conor Hourihane and Callum O’Dowda – joined John Egan, James McCarthy, Jack Byrne, Harry Arter, and Adam Idah in leaving the Irish ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier with Serbia in Belgrade rather.

Former Rangers and Derby County-triallist Lapira has said that his “phone is always on” and he’s “ready to play a part” in Ireland’s inevitable failure to qualify for Qatar 2022.

“I’ve been keeping myself in shape since I retired seven years ago – and the first yard is in your head anyway, you never lose that,” he said when contacted on his lunch break from the insurance sales office he works in now.

The former National College Player of the Year in the US could be in-line for call if injuries continue to mount, as fellow one-cap wonders Paul Butler, Mickey Evans and Mike Milligan are yet to confirm their availability.

And the FAI have put out a call to anyone with a plane in the Houston area to volunteer to transport the Irish international to Belgrade should he be needed.

“We’re flying the squad around on Ryanair we’re so broke. You don’t think we’re laying on chartered jets for one lad?” a source said.

And the association has also been forced to deny reports that the Irish team are set to boycott the Qatar World Cup due to human rights abuses in the preparations of the host nation.

“We haven’t scored in our last eight games, but that has nothing to do with Qatar, we just can’t buy a goal,” our source said.

The team takes on Serbia on Wednesday and then faces Luxembourg on Saturday, where hopes are high of breaking the goalless streak.

“We’ve got Robbie Keane still on staff, and he loved banging them in against group minnows, so don’t be surprised to see him coming on if we need a goal on Saturday,” we were told.


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