Alan Browne (file pic). Alamy Stock Photo

3 winners and losers from Ireland's latest international window

Alan Browne has been among the players to impress in recent days.

The winners

Alan Browne

Arguably Ireland’s best player against the Netherlands. The hosts were at their best harrying their opponents and the Preston star won possession from the Dutch on more than one occasion as they tried unsuccessfully to play out from the back. The 28-year-old has been in good form for Preston, playing every minute of their league campaign so far in which they currently sit top of the Championship and he has taken this confidence into the international window. He also impressed as a makeshift right wing-back in Paris and has probably suffered to a degree as a result of his versatility, but Sunday’s performance will surely result in him starting more games in central midfield going forward.

Chiezdozie Ogbene

Ireland’s best-attacking outlet in the Parc des Princes, while he also caused the Dutch plenty of problems with his pace and trickery. Ogbene was a big loss in the last international window for the Greece defeat, as the Luton star has now established himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet. The 26-year-old former Cork City star has been an impact sub for all three of Luton’s top-flight games this season, but if he can get more frequent minutes with the Premier League outfit, he is surely only going to get better for Ireland.

Jason Knight

A bundle of energy, and given how much he puts in, it’s remarkable that Knight managed to play the full 90 minutes against France and virtually the entire game (87 minutes) versus the Dutch. His presence was integral to Ireland’s effective pressing game in the first half and his performance was recognised with a player-of-the-match award. Knight now has the same number of caps as his age (22), which is a testament to how highly Stephen Kenny rates him, and even if Sunday does prove to be the manager’s last match in charge, it seems fitting that the former Cabinteely player had a considerable influence on proceedings.

The losers

Shane Duffy

Having not played at international level for 15 months, suddenly bringing Duffy back into the starting XI felt like a big gamble, especially as deputy centre-back Dara O’Shea hadn’t done much wrong in his absence and is playing a level above him in the Premier League. But perhaps Kenny was thinking as much about his prowess down the other end — Duffy has seven goals for Ireland — only one player in the current Ireland squad (James McClean with 11) has more. However, the 31-year-old lacked sharpness at vital moments and was duly punished. The Derry native was caught playing Denzel Dumfries onside for both goals as Ireland got their defensive line badly wrong and were made to pay unduly.

Enda Stevens

Left-wing-back is a position that seems like somewhat of a problem area for Ireland. Enda Stevens, James McClean and Ryan Manning all played there in this window, with none of the trio entirely convincing with their performance. Matt Doherty played there in the home France game to accommodate Seamus Coleman at right wing-back, but the Donegal native turns 35 next month and his time as an international footballer is surely coming to a close and he can no longer be regularly relied upon to fill the slot. Similarly, Stevens may not have much time left with Ireland. He struggled in Paris against the pacy Ousmane Dembélé and the 33-year-old has also had his fair share of injuries in recent times, with a calf problem ruling him out of the Netherlands game. McClean, meanwhile, who won his 102nd cap last night also hinted his days in an Ireland shirt could be numbered, writing on Instagram after the Dutch game that it was “time to reflect on what’s next”.

Jayson Molumby

Another disappointing window for the Cappoquin native. Like all of the Irish players in Paris, he struggled to combat the French threat. He was part of a midfield that were thoroughly outplayed by the hosts before being substituted in the 68th minute for Dara O’Shea with Browne taking his place in midfield. The 24-year-old has developed into a key player for West Brom of late, starting all five of their Championship games this season, however, he found the step-up tough playing against top-class footballers of the calibre of Aurélien Tchouaméni and Adrien Rabiot. He was consequently dropped and finished the Dutch game as an unused sub. However, few individuals have been more important to Molumby’s career than Kenny, regularly starting the player during his time as U21 boss and handing him 21 caps for the senior side. So if the manager does depart, the Waterford native will be especially sad to see him go.

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