Ipswich Town striker Daryl Murphy admits he feared an elaborate prank when news filtered through of his first Republic of Ireland call-up in more than six years

Daryl Murphy celebrates after putting Ipswich in front with a second half goal at Bournemouth

Daryl Murphy celebrates after putting Ipswich in front with a second half goal at Bournemouth

Ipswich Town striker Daryl Murphy thought he was on the end of an elaborate prank when news first filtered through that he’d been selected for the Republic of Ireland squad.

The last of the 30-year-old’s nine caps for his country came over six years ago and admits that he thought his days as an international were over.

New Ireland boss Martin O’Neill has ended the Waterford-born front man’s exile though and included him in his squad for next Wednesday’s friendly against Serbia at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The first Murphy knew of his inclusion was when he walked off the training pitch at Playford Road and at first he didn’t believe what he was told.

“I had a few text message and loads of missed calls,” he explained. “At first I wasn’t sure if it was a wind-up, but when I saw the other five missed calls and text messages it began to sink in. I realised it was either a very good wind-up or it was true. I had to go and confirm it for myself though and I was delighted.”

Asked if he thought his chance to play at international level again had passed, he admitted: “I thought it might have, yeah. I knew under the previous manager (Giovanni Trapattoni) that I just wasn’t going to get in the team – no matter how well I was playing, for whatever reason. I think with the new management in place (O’Neill and Roy Keane) now it’s given everyone a chance.”

Indeed, Keane’s role as O’Neill’s right-hand man is likely to have played a big factor in Murphy’s call-up, the former Manchester United midfielder having been Murphy’s boss at both Sunderland and Ipswich.

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“I’ve always got on with him,” said Murphy. “And I’ve always done quite well for him when he’s been my manager.”

Can he envisage Keane being an assistant manager?

“I can, I can,” he replied with a smile. “A lot of people have said that to me already and, yeah, I think he can be really good in that role. He is great banter around the place and I can see him slotting into that role really easily.”

Ireland have been drawn in the same qualifying group as Germany, Scotland, Poland, Georgia and Gilbraltar.

And with an extended 24 places at the finals in France up for grabs, the Emerald Isle will be hopeful of making a major tournament for the first time since 2002.

“We all see Germany as the team that will probably top the group but there’s definitely a chance for us to take second,” said Murphy.

“To qualify for the Euros would be unbelievable.

“After six years of not being in the squad this is now a new chance for me and if I do get the chance to play I need to prove that I am good enough to stay in there.

“Being in the squad means everything to me. As a young footballer you dream of playing for your country. To get the call-up was shock but I’m absolutely delighted.”

Murphy is joined in the Ireland squad by club-mate Paul Green, though there were no call-ups for David McGoldrick (who suffered a season-ending knee injury when O’Neill watched Ipswich 0-0 draw with Blackpool), Stephen Hunt and Luke Chambers (eligible for Ireland through his grandfather).

Asked if he though a few of his Town team mates could be joining himself and Green in the Ireland squad in the future, Murphy said: “Hopefully. It was disappointing for Didzy (McGoldrick) but he would have probably been in instead of me (had he not got injured)!

“Hunty obviously wants to be in there again, he’s a had a run of games recently and done quite well so I’m sure he’ll be hoping to be involving again one day.”