READING FC midfielder Liam Kelly revealed he turned down the chance to represent Republic of Ireland for “personal reasons”.

The 21-year-old playmaker was criticised recently after he turned down the chance to play for Martin O'Neill’s side.

O’Neill stated he had called the Basingstoke-born player several times, but said Kelly later rejected the offer by text message.

Reports at the time stated Kelly wanted to hold out for a potential England call-up.

But the Royals’ academy product refused to rule out representing Republic of Ireland in the future.

Speaking for the first time since the snub, he said: “It was a personal reason, it was nothing against Republic of Ireland.

“It had nothing to do with feeling English or Irish, it was a personal thing between me and my family which we thought was best.

“There are no ifs and buts about it, it was just how I was feeling at the time."

When asked if he could represent Republic of Ireland in the future, he replied: “We’ll see how it goes”.

Kelly was on the score-sheet in Reading’s action-packed 2-2 draw with relegation-threatened Sunderland yesterday (Saturday).

The midfielder kept his nerve to put Royals ahead with a fine penalty kick after Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was fouled inside the box.

“It was a key moment in the game,” said Kelly. “I was glad to see it go in.”

Kelly was forced to withdraw from the pitch late in the game after experiencing blurred vision.

He missed a nail-biting period of added time which saw both sides squander chances to claim a vital win.

“The end felt like a bit of a computer game,” he confessed.

“ It must have been nice for the fans to see. But from the bench there was a lot of nerves and relief when the final whistle blew.

“I had a bit of blurred vision. Hopefully I’ll be alright over the next few days.

“I don’t know what it was. I didn’t take a bang to the head, it might have been the heat.”

Kelly, who broke into the first-team under Jaap Stam last season, has already experienced the highs and lows of Championship football.

He played in the Championship play-off final against Huddersfield last season and comfortably dispatched his spot-kick in a cruel penalty shoot-out defeat which saw Huddersifled Town progress to the Premier League.

But Royals have struggled this season and currently sit five points above the relegation zone with three games to play.

And with three games left to play, Kelly continued: “It’s not the position we want to be in but we’re good enough to stay up.

“I’m not worried about getting relegated. With the squad we have I think we’ll be fine.

“It hasn’t been the best few months but that’s football for you - going from what we did last year to this year.

“We have to stay strong and keep together.”

Reading travel to Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday (3pm ko).