Michael Obafemi: Martin O'Neill won't rush Southampton player to make international decision

Michael Obafemi and Roy Keane
Michael Obafemi receiving instructions from Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill will not rush Michael Obafemi into a decision on his international career.

The Southampton player is training with the Republic squad ahead of Thursday's friendly against Northern Ireland.

Obafemi, 18, can also play for England or Nigeria and will not feature in the Nations League visit to Denmark on 19 November as he considers his future.

It mirrors the stance of West Ham's Declan Rice, who has asked for time to ponder a switch to play for England.

Obafemi was born in Dublin to Nigerian parents and moved to London as a child but the forward could make his international debut in the friendly against Northern Ireland without committing his future to the Republic.

"I haven't spoken to his parents but I've spoken to him," said O'Neill.

"He's enjoyed the training and has done really well. I think he's really enjoyed it but, in terms of decisions, I think that's a bit off.

"He's got things to think about. I wouldn't be rushing him."

Wolves defender Matt Doherty has been ruled out of the matches against Northern Ireland and Denmark as a result of a facial injury he picked up on club duty but fit-again midfielder Robbie Brady will feature on Thursday following his recovery following an 11-month lay-off because of a knee injury.

'He's really been excellent' - Michael O'Neill pays tribute to Glenn Whelan

Veteran midfielder Glenn Whelan will captain the Republic for the game on Thursday night in what is likely to be his final international appearance.

The Aston Villa player, who will win his 85th international cap at the Aviva Stadium, has told O'Neill that he will remain available for selection in an emergency.

"It has been an honour to play for my country," said Whelan.

"I would have taken your hand off to get one cap growing up, so to get 85 has been amazing.

"I would never officially retire and say I'm not available for my country. I have told Martin if he ever needs me I will be available for him.

"Saying that, I know tomorrow is probably the last time I will play for my country."

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, 19, and Portsmouth's Ronan Curtis, 22, could also win their first senior international caps on Thursday.

O'Neill confirmed that James McClean will play some part in Thursday's game despite receiving abuse on social media and from some Stoke fans following his decision not to wear a poppy during the Remembrance Day period.

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