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A complete guide to Irish footballers playing in the Premier League this season

There will be a record low of Irish players in the Premier League in 2017/18.

Updated at 8.45

THE NUMBER OF Irish players in the Premier League has decreased every season over the last five years.

From a high of 33 in 2011-12 the number has dropped to just 16 as the 2017/18 season gets underway this weekend.

Here is a complete guide to every Irish player who will be playing in the top tier of English football this season:

Harry Arter

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Club: Bournemouth

Age: 27

Appearances/goals last season: 35 (1)

What to expect: 

Arter played 35 times last season as Bournemouth finished in ninth place. The player has been at the club throughout its incredible rise from League One to the Premier League and this summer signed a new four year contract.

Now 27, the player has made seven appearances for his country and will be looking to turn manager Martin O’Neill’s head to book a place on the flight to Russia should Ireland qualify for next summer’s World Cup.

Storming onto the Irish international scene with five appearances in 2016, the player will be looking to fulfill the entire potential he has shown throughout 239 appearances for Eddie Howe’s side.

Shane Duffy

Barnsley v Brighton and Hove Albion - Sky Bet Championship - Oakwell Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Age: 25

Appearances/goals last season: 34 (2)

What to expect: 

The Brighton defender fractured his metatarsal ruling him out of Ireland’s crucial World Cup qualifier with Wales, but made 34 appearances as Brighton gained promotion.

The defender was a maintain in the centre of defence for Chris Hughton as his side went on an 18-game unbeaten run at the beginning of last season, eventually finishing second behind Newcastle in the Championship table.

The centre back pairing for Ireland has been prone to change over the course of this World Cup qualifying campaign.

Duffy is one of four Irish centre backs playing in the Premier League this season. At 25 and with a season remaining injury free he could easily earn himself a starting position in Russia.

Jeff Hendrick

Tottenham Hotspur v Burnley - Premier League - White Hart Lane Source: EMPICS Sport

Club: Burnley

Age: 25

Appearances/goals last season: 32 (2)

What to expect:

Hendrick did not reach the heights of Euro 2016 throughout last season for Burnley. However holding down a central midfield position in a side which finished comfortably above the drop zone is a feat worth recognition.

Now 25, Hendrick could arguably be coming towards his prime. Last year’s European Championships showcased his ability to hold his own with some of the world’s elite midfielders and reaching that performance level consistently at the most demanding league in world football is a goal the player will need to be aiming towards.

This will be the player’s second season playing in the Premier League with Burnley. A season of experience and getting to know the physical demands of what is expected will have made all the difference.

This season presents an opportunity for Hendrick to kick on, get another season of playing each week under his belt and perhaps become the elite midfield maestro he has shown he can be.

Kevin Long

Accrington Stanley v Burnley - EFL Cup - Second Round - Wham Stadium Source: Tim Goode

Club: Burnley

Age: 26

Appearances/goals last season: 3 (0)

What to expect:

Long emerged on the scene last season and was a shock inclusion in Martin O’Neill’s starting eleven for Ireland’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Austria in the Aviva Stadium.

Despite his international inexperience Long held his own commendably as Ireland ground out a 1-1 draw. Consistently hampered with injuries, the 26-year-old finally made his Premier League debut in April.

The departure of Michael Keane to Everton may now present an opportunity for the player to nail down a starting position.

Jonathan Walters

Nottingham Forest v Burnley - Pre-Season - City Ground Source: Richard Sellers

Club: Burnley

Age: 33

Appearances/goals last season: 23 (4)

What to expect:

Jonathan Walters’ signing makes it five Irish internationals playing at Burnley this season. The striker was almost designed to play at Stoke City but has left the Potters after seven successful seasons.

Now 33, Walters has still shown a Premier League pedigree, scoring six goals last season even though a knee injury in January put him out for a number of weeks.

At Burnley he will face competition from Sam Vokes and Ashley Barnes for those forward positions, but Walters has shown a flexibility meaning he can play on the right side of midfield too.

It remains to be seen whether the player can sustain a league campaign of 90 minutes every week, however he will be a much needed outlet for Dyche as his side attempt to consolidate their position in the Premier League.

Robbie Brady

Burnley v Chelsea - Premier League - Turf Moor Source: Richard Sellers

Club: Burnley

Age: 25

Appearances/goals last season: 14 (1)

What to expect:

Robbie Brady did not follow up on the highs of Euro 2016 in the Premier League last season. The player seemed destined for a big move following his exploits in France, however it only came in January following half a season with Norwich in the Championship.

The player displayed moments of class in the second half of last season, such as his winning free-kick against champions Chelsea.

But they were few and far between — Brady only made seven starts for Sean Dyche’s side, scoring one goal and getting two assists.

This time last year he was being linked with moves to Leicester and possibly a top seven side. This season, like Hendrick, he will be looking to re-establish himself as a Premier League mainstay.

He made the Championship his own at Norwich, but will now be determined to prove his naysayers wrong, who said he was not a player of Premier League pedigree.

Stephen Ward

Nottingham Forest v Burnley - Pre-Season - City Ground Source: Richard Sellers

Club: Burnley

Age: 31

Appearances/goals last season: 37 (1)

What to expect:

Ward played the most minutes of any Irish player in the Premier League last season. The 31-year-old managed well over 3,000 minutes playing in 37 of Burnley’s 38 league games last season and was a constant for Sean Dyche.

Burnley conceded less than 1.5 goals per game as the Clarets exceeded expectations beyond measure to stay in the Premier League and finish 16th.

A converted left back having arrived in England as a striker, Ward has emerged as one of the unsung success stories of Irish players playing in England in the last decade.

Still just 31, the defender has another big season ahead of him. With little obvious competition for the left back position in Martin O’Neill’s side bar a converted Robbie Brady, Ward can be sure of being a crucial player if Ireland are to qualify for Russia next summer. That starts with another consistent campaign at Turf Moor.

Damien Delaney

Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League - Selhurst Park Source: Adam Davy

Club: Crystal Palace

Age: 36

Appearances/goals last season: 30 (0)

What to expect:

Delaney has been at Palace since 2012 and made close to 200 appearances across all competitions, however is now almost an enigma with rumours that he would leave the club at the end of last season.

Despite his tender age of 36, the defender made 30 Premier League appearances last season and has averaged that number over the last four seasons.

He has since retired from international football but is primed for another season of consistent football at Selhurst Park, defying his body’s ageing to turn out at the highest level each week.

Palace have never maintained this consistency in the Premier League, with 2017/18 their fifth straight season in the top tier. They finished 14th last season and under the management of Frank de Boer will be aiming much higher this year.

James McCarthy

Everton v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League - Goodison Park Source: Martin Rickett

Club: Everton

Age: 26

Appearances/goals last season: 12 (1)

What to expect:

One can’t help but feel sympathy for James McCarthy. Already ruled out of Everton’s opening game with a knee injury, the midfielder could see his future away from Goodison Park before the transfer window closes.

Martin O’Neill and Toffees’ boss Ronald Koeman have come to verbal blows consistently over the subject of McCarthy’s fitness. The player showed moments of class last season but could not manage any sort of consistency, playing a part in just 12 games and scoring one goal.

It seems possible that McCarthy will move away from Everton. Even if he does stay it does not seem likely Koeman will be motivated to play him with the additions of Wayne Rooney and possibly Gylfi Sigurðsson too in midfield.

When fit, he will be out to prove a lot of people wrong.

Seamus Coleman

Everton v Arsenal - Premier League - Goodison Park Source: Peter Byrne

Club: Everton

Age: 28

Appearances/goals last season: 26 (4)

What to expect:

This week saw the Ireland skipper return to training for Everton for the first time in five months, following his horrific leg break against Wales back in March.

The player hopes to be back in action before the end of 2017 and will undoubtedly be one of the first names on Ronald Koeman’s team sheet when fully fit.

The question hangs in the balance whenever a player suffers such a long-term injury as to whether or not they will be the same player when they return.

Coleman will be aiming to come back stronger and fitter than ever before and help propel Everton towards their aspiration of a top four finish. He remains one of the Premier League’s best fullbacks.

Sean Scannell

Accrington Stanley v Huddersfield Town - Pre-Season Friendly - The Wham Stadium Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Club: Huddersfield Town

Age: 28

Appearances/goals last season: 15 (0)

What to expect:

Scannell will certainly be one to watch for Irish fans this season. The winger made his Crystal Palace debut in 2007 having joined the club aged 14, before departing in 2012 to join Huddersfield Town.

In those five years the player has made over 150 appearances as the club gained promotion to the Premier League via the play-off last season. Dubbed as a future prospect at a young age Scannell will make his long awaited Premier League debut aged 26.

The player was hit with a spell of injuries last season but still featured in 15 games in the Championship. He has shown good form during pre-season, scoring a late leveller in a friendly against Bundesliga side Stuttgart last week.

Ciaran Clark

Preston North End v Newcastle United - Pre-Season Friendly - Deepdale Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Club: Newcastle United

Age: 27

Appearances/goals last season: 34 (3)

What to expect:

Alongside Shane Duffy, Damien Delaney and Kevin Long, Clarke is one of four Irish central defenders playing in the Premier League this season.

He played in 34 games as Newcastle won the Championship and will be looking to help Rafa Benitez keep the side in the top flight, where the Toon Army believe they rightly belong.

A number of years ago Clark looked like becoming a mainstay of the Irish defensive unit. Following a number of years playing understudy to players like John O’Shea, Richard Dunne, Richard Keogh and Shane Duffy, Clarke could well be coming into his best years.

Defenders are said to peak coming into their late 20s and early 30s and a sense of rawness was evident throughout Clark’s early Premier League career while at Aston Villa.

Now back in the top flight in a season leading into a World Cup, Clark has the experience and the backing of a club with ambitions to go on and have a tremendously successful season this year. Despite being 27, the best could still be to come from the player.

Rob Elliot

Stoke City v Newcastle United - Barclays Premier League - Britannia Stadium Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Club: Newcastle United

Age: 27

Appearances/clean sheets last season: 3 (2)

What to expect:

Elliot suffered a cruel blow when he was stretchered off during Ireland’s Euro 2016 qualifier with Poland which ruled him out for almost nine months.

However the goalkeeper came back fit in December of last season and featured three times towards the end of the campaign as Newcastle wrapped up the Championship title.

Elliot kept two clean sheets during his three league appearances and will compete with Magpies number one Karl Darlow to get games this season.

Ireland’s recent qualifying games showed that Darren Randolph’s hold on the number one jersey is not absolute. Keiren Westwood and Elliot could give him competition, with the latter the only Irish goalkeeper featured in a senior Premier League squad this season.

He has also been handed the number one squad number ahead of the 2017/18 Premier League season. Read into that what you will.

Shane Long

Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton - Premier League - White Hart Lane Source: John Walton

Club: Southampton

Age: 30

Appearances/goals last season: 22 (3)

What to expect: 

Long has been Ireland’s main man up front over the last number of years. With the slow withdrawal and subsequent retirement of Robbie Keane from international football and the Premier League, the Tipperary forward is Ireland’s most consistent goalscorer.

But even at that it has been said that Long has not yet reached his full potential, now 30 years of age. He scored just three goals last season in 22 Premier League appearances, meaning Jonathan Walters was the top scoring Irish player with just six.

Long scored five goals in 2014/15 and doubled it the season prior to Euro 2016 with 10 goals. Three in a season is a poor return for a player of such established and varying qualities — his ferocious pace, stamina, battling ability and powerful shot on goal.

But his finishing in one-on-one situations has always been a sticking point. Rumours have linked the forward with a move away from Southampton, however he will be keen to nail down a starting position and not let go this season.

While Jay Rodriguez has departed St Mary’s this summer, Long will still face competition from Charlie Austin and Manolo Gabbiadini up front under new manager Mauricio Pellegrino.

James McClean

West Bromwich Albion v West Ham United - Premier League - The Hawthorns Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Club: West Brom

Age: 28

Appearances/goals last season: 34 (1)

What to expect:

James McClean has been the story of Ireland’s World Cup qualifying campaign with three goals to his name.

At the Hawthorns last season he featured in all but four of their 38 Premier League games, albeit with 21 of those being off the bench — the player making just 13 starts.

McClean has scored more goals for country than club in 2017 and will look to bring that form in the green jersey back into his club game this season.

The last 12 months has seen a striking maturity from the player on the field of play in terms of his performances and capabilities to be a leader.

Coming onto the scene as a raw prospect at Sunderland it took the player a few seasons to find himself. Under Tony Pulis he has never looked better, however a starting position remained elusive last season.

Were Ireland to qualify for next summer’s World Cup McClean could be one of, if not the key players for Martin O’Neill’s side.

There are exactly 10 months until the World Cup kicks off and the player will need another standout season under his belt to take into Russia if he is to be the main man he has proven to be in qualification.

Declan Rice

Coventry City v West Ham United - Checkatrade Trophy - Ricoh Arena Source: EMPICS Sport

Club: West Ham

Age: 18

Appearances/goals last season: 1 (0)

What to expect:

Rice is the youngest Irish player to be included in a Premier League squad this season and may come as a bit of an unknown.

The player was named as captain of West Ham’s U23s at just 17 years of age, putting in a number of outstanding performances during the the season.

Rice continued to prove a vital part of the U23 side, earning regular praise from manager Terry Westley while captaining the team to promotion.

He was awarded the Young Hammer of the Year award at the West Ham Player Awards in May and was rewarded with his first team debut against Burnley on the final day of last season.

Days later he was also called into the Ireland squad by Martin O’Neill for Ireland’s June fixtures.

Rice will not get the same number of minutes this season as other players above, but at just 18 years of age has shown incredible promise, catching the eye of Hammers boss Slaven Bilic already.

*Note: An earlier edition of this story stated that Irish defender John O’Shea had retired from international football. While not making an appearance in 2017, the player has yet to retire.

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