1. Declan Rice
IRELAND SIMPLY DON’T have any other teenagers playing at Declan Rice’s level right now. The 18-year-old, who can play in defence and midfield, already has made seven appearances this season for West Ham at senior level, impressing in last night’s 3-2 win over Tottenham.
Even if he does make the squad, Rice is unlikely to start against Denmark, but there would be no harm in selecting him to travel given his recent progress. If a player is good enough, he is old enough, as 18-year-old Ben Woodburn has shown for Wales, so Rice — who has impressed for the Irish U21 side already — surely also merits a senior call-up.
2. Matt Doherty
There aren’t too many Irish players showing better form than Matt Doherty at the moment. His side, Wolves, are top of the Championship, and the 25-year-old has featured in all 13 of their games so far.
Doherty has been largely ignored by Martin O’Neill despite an injury to first-choice right-back Seamus Coleman and the Dubliner’s consistently excellent form at club level. In the last provisional squad for the games with Wales and Moldova, five centre-backs were selected, yet just one natural right-back was picked.
Ex-Ireland international Stephen Hunt has led the calls for Doherty’s inclusion, and current Coleman deputy Cyrus Christie would surely benefit from some competition for the position.
3. Alan Browne
While Sean Maguire’s encouraging form at Preston has garnered most of the headlines this season, and Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle attracted much of the limelight last year following their moves from Dundalk, another former League of Ireland player, Alan Browne, has gone quietly under the radar for the most part.
Yet despite a red card in his most recent match, the 22-year-old has been among the most consistent performers at Deepdale in recent years.
Browne has already made his international debut, getting capped in the summer friendly against Mexico, but he was left out of the most recent provisional Ireland squad.
However, with David Meyler suspended for the first Denmark game in Copenhagen and James McCarthy’s fitness by no means guaranteed despite the player’s long-awaited return to first-team action with Everton last night, the energetic Browne could be a useful central-midfield alternative for O’Neill to have at his disposal.
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