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Dublin: 8°C Friday 16 April 2021

5 young Irish players that deserve a chance now that the World Cup dream is over

Declan Rice and others who may be given an opportunity to impress in the coming months.

IT IS OBVIOUS that Irish football’s problems run far deeper than the national team’s personnel, as explained in detail here.

However, despite issues elsewhere, the squad could do with some freshening up, particularly with some veteran players expected to retire after last night’s demoralising drubbing against Denmark.

The following players deserve to be considered for selection…

1. Declan Rice

West Ham United v Bolton Wanderers - Carabao Cup - Third Round - London Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

18-year-old Declan Rice is that rare thing — a teenager eligible for Ireland who actually has experience of Premier League football. Rice has trained with the Irish senior team, in addition to impressing at U21 level for Noel King’s side.

The series of anticipated friendlies next year should provide the perfect opportunity to give the versatile starlet — who can play both centre-back or central midfield — a chance to impress.

2. Liam Kelly

Reading v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Source: PA Archive/PA Images

A small, creative player in the mould of Wes Hoolahan, Kelly has looked seriously impressive for Reading at times. The 21-year-old, a product of the the club’s academy, was linked with a Premier League move last year, before penning a contract extension with the Royals, who he has appeared 13 times for this season.

Kelly has been on the periphery of the Irish squad after earning a first senior call-up in March and may now see game time.

Manager Jaap Stam has been singing the young attacking midfielder’s praises, earlier this year saying: “People always talk about his size and if it’s going to be a problem. But if you look at the top sides in Europe and in the world, a lot of players are the same size.

“He has got a lot of quality on the ball and he uses the physique that he has very well — even against big players.”

3. Sean Maguire

Republic of Ireland v Moldova - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying - Group D - Aviva Stadium Source: Brian Lawless

Ireland’s biggest problem area is undoubtedly up front. At 34, Daryl Murphy may feel the time is right to step away from the international football.

Meanwhile, both Shane Long and Scott Hogan have struggled for form of late and David McGoldrick — despite his seven goals at Ipswich this season — seems to be out of the picture, having failed to make the final squad for the Denmark play-off matches.

Sean Maguire, before picking up an injury, was in excellent form for Preston and consequently deserves a chance to impress on the international stage in the coming months.

4. Alan Browne

Hull City v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship - KCOM Stadium Source: EMPICS Sport

22-year-old Browne has been highly impressive since joining Preston from Cork City in 2014, making over 100 appearances for the Lilywhites.

This season, he has continued to stand out, featuring 15 times in the Championship, with his side currently 14th in the table.

Like others mentioned on this list, he has been on the periphery of the squad before and actually made his international debut in the summer against Mexico, and the time now feels right to give him more experience with the senior team.

5. Matt Doherty

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship - Molineux Source: Mike Egerton

Doherty has been a regular part of an exciting Wolves team that are currently topping the Championship. He has arguably been all too readily overlooked in this campaign, particularly with Seamus Coleman injured, and deserves a chance now to push Cyrus Christie for the right-back slot. Granted, at 25, he is not especially young, but that doesn’t mean his good form should continue to be ignored.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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