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Callum O’Dowda has ‘unfinished business’ ahead of Ireland’s Nations League games

Republic of Ireland midfielder Callum O’Dowda is determined to get his international career back on track (Simon Cooper/PA)
Republic of Ireland midfielder Callum O’Dowda is determined to get his international career back on track (Simon Cooper/PA)

Callum O’Dowda does not want to be remembered as a footballer who could have had a great international career.

The Cardiff midfielder only just missed out on a place in the Republic of Ireland squad which went to Euro 2016 as a 21-year-old, but established himself as a regular in the years that followed.

However, now 27, he has not represented his country since a 1-0 Nations League defeat in Wales in November 2020 with a succession of injuries proving a frustrating obstacle to his progression.

As he prepared for what he hopes will be his comeback against Scotland on Saturday, O’Dowda said: “I don’t want to be one of those guys when I retire and people say, ‘Injuries tarnished his career’ or ‘He didn’t fulfil his potential because of injuries’.

“Touch wood, this is the season I can kick on and truly just get back to being at my best playing regular football.”

He is doing just that in Wales having ended his six-year stay at Bristol City this summer at the behest of Cardiff boss Steve Morison, only to see him sacked at the weekend after a 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield.

O’Dowda said: “I’m disappointed. I felt we as players owed a lot to Steve Morison. He was the one that did it for me, he was the one that got it over the line.

“I need to be careful what I say, but I’m quite disappointed with it all. But I guess, that’s football.”

In the meantime, O’Dowda will attempt to rediscover the form which kept him right in former Ireland boss Martin O’Neill’s thoughts until the last minute before he announced his squad to travel to France six summers ago.

Ireland's Callum O’Dowda
Ireland’s Callum O’Dowda (Brian Lawless/PA)

Asked if he had not achieved his potential with Ireland, he said: “I think that is a fair comment.

“I feel as though I have unfinished business in a way, and the gaffer here [Stephen Kenny] has been great with me with phone calls and checking up on me to see how I am. I want to repay that loyalty he has had in me as I did start quite a few of his early games.”

O’Dowda also has ground to make up on his younger sister Jade, who won bronze for England behind compatriot Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the heptathlon at this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

He said: “I was extremely proud. It was lovely. I went to watch her in Birmingham and she did fantastically.”

He added with a smile: “They say she is the proper athlete.”