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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 10 April 2021

5 Ireland players we'd like to see get a chance against Iceland

Martin O’Neill could hand senior international debuts to as many as four players tomorrow night.

1. John Egan

John Egan Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

EGAN HAS IMPRESSED since joining Brentford from Gillingham in the summer. The son of the late Kerry GAA legend John Egan senior, he has made 36 appearances in all competitions for the Bees, who are currently 14th in the Championship. Martin O’Neill knows the player well from their time together at Sunderland, with the manager visiting Egan in hospital after he broke his leg as a teenager at the Black Cats.

2. Conor Hourihane

Conor Hourihane Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Another former Sunderland youngster, Hourihane’s time at the Stadium of Light coincided with Roy Keane’s tenure as manager there, while the latter also signed his fellow Cork native while in charge at Ipswich. Now 26, he has gradually worked his way back up the leagues, starting off his rejuvenation in League Two with Plymouth, before helping guide Barnsley to promotion to the Championship last season and joining Aston Villa on a three-and-a-half year deal in January. The Bandon-born midfielder has had to be patient at international level too, having been named in a few provisional Ireland squads in recent months, while having to wait until now to make the final squad for the first time.

3. Jonathan Hayes

Jonathan Hayes Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Hayes has been consistently excellent at club level in recent times. The 29-year-old has scored eight goals in 33 appearances for Aberdeen this season, while he was one of four nominees for the Scottish PFA Player of the Year back in May. It is almost a year to the day since he won his last cap, coming off the bench in the 2-2 friendly draw against Slovakia on 29 March, while he made his Ireland debut as a substitute four days previously in the 1-0 win over Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium.

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4. Keiren Westwood

Soccer - Friendly - Nigeria v Republic of Ireland - Craven Cottage Source: Daniel Hambury

With Shay Given officially retired from international football and David Forde also seemingly out of the picture, Westwood now appears to have established himself as the back-up to regular number one Darren Randolph. Described by manager Carlos Carvalhal as “the best goalkeeper in the Championship,” he attracted Premier League interest after a series of impressive displays last season and previously worked under O’Neill at Sunderland. The 32-year-old, who has 19 caps at international level, will be hoping the Ireland boss gives Randolph the night off on Tuesday.

5. Daryl Horgan

Daryl Horgan Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Called up for the second consecutive time after being included for the trip to Austria back in November while still a Dundalk player, Horgan has looked at home since making the switch to Championship side Preston in the January transfer window. The 24-year-old has impressed as part of a growing Irish contingent at Deepdale. The Galway native has played 12 league matches for Simon Grayson’s side, scoring two goals in the process. Dundalk fans and League of Ireland supporters in general will be hoping himself and fellow former Lilywhites player Andy Boyle will be given their international debuts at the Aviva tomorrow night.

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Paul Fennessy

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