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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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Burke to skip Shamrock Rovers clash with Dundalk in favour of Ireland friendly against the US

The Dubliner, who made his international debut against France on Monday, won’t be involved in the Hoops’ SSE Airtricity League Premier Division game tomorrow night.

Burke taking part in today's training session.
Burke taking part in today's training session.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

IRELAND’S LATEST DEBUTANT Graham Burke is in line to earn his second cap against the US this weekend.

The 24-year-old came on as a second-half substitute in Monday’s defeat to France at the Stade de France — becoming the first League of Ireland-based player to represent the Boys in Green at senior level since Cork City midfielder Joe Gamble back in 2007.

Ex-Aston Villa youth star Burke has been balancing international duty with the busy SSE Airtricity League Premier Division schedule over the past two weeks.

However, the Shamrock Rovers forward will miss their clash at home to Dundalk tomorrow night in order to prepare for Ireland’s friendly at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening (8.08pm kick-off).

“I knew yesterday that I wasn’t going to play in the game,” Burke said today. “I don’t know if that’s anything to do with Saturday, Martin [O'Neill] hasn’t said anything to me.

I’m just focusing on training and being here with the team. That’s all I really know about it.”

He added: “I needed to play the games for Rovers so the situation was that I was going to play the Sligo game, go to Celtic, then come back and play Bohs. In the meantime, I was going to be in with the Ireland set-up, but it was fine.

“Obviously, we’re still in season so I need to play the games for my club. To get the opportunity to do this is just about balancing the two and I think it has worked out well.”

Hoops boss Stephen Bradley also says the club are fully behind the decision.

It’s an unbelievable achievement for Graham to be capped by Ireland,” said Bradley. “If you think back to when we signed him, he’d lost his way a bit in terms of football and he got disillusioned with everything. He’s come in, worked really hard on and off the field to improve every part of his game and he’s got the rewards.

“It’s a fantastic achievement for him and it’s great for the club and the league that you have a player that comes on in the Stade de France on Monday and is an Ireland international.

“The higher the level Graham plays at the better he’ll be because of the type of player he is. He has the ability to play at the highest level and I think he showed that this week that he didn’t look out of place. He has the ability to look really comfortable in and out of possession in those scenarios.

“It does mean he’ll miss our game on Friday. You’re obviously gutted to be missing him for a big game for us but he’s worked so hard. He’s produced for us and now he’s getting his just rewards for playing for Ireland. He’s playing for his country so it’s something that we fully support and would never try and change it.”

Burke trained with the squad at the FAI’s headquarters in Dublin today, while Harry Arter (thigh) and Derrick Williams (groin) sat out the session.

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‘What a servant and what a player he’s been over such a long, long period’

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Ben Blake

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