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Dublin: 13°C Thursday 13 May 2021

Teenage goalkeeper Bazunu earns first call-up as Kenny names squad for World Cup qualifiers

Aaron Connolly and James McClean are included in spite of concerns around their fitness.

Gavin Bazunu.
Gavin Bazunu.
Image: Hrach Khachatryan/INPHO

TEENAGE GOALKEEPER GAVIN Bazunu has earned a first senior international call-up as Stephen Kenny has named a 29-man squad for the World Cup qualifiers with Serbia and Luxembourg along with the subsequent friendly with Qatar. 

Bazunu featured in Kenny’s U21 squads, and has impressed this season on loan from Manchester City at Rochdale. He is included as one of four goalkeepers along with Caoimhin Kelleher, Mark Travers, and Kieran O’Hara, with first-choice Darren Randolph out injured. 

Kelleher’s inclusion is significant, as he is likely next in line to replace Randolph, but has not made a Liverpool matchday squad in over a month as he recovers from an abdominal muscle issue. 

The squad selection is more optimistic on the injury front than initially feared, with Aaron Connolly and James McClean included in spite of concerns over their fitness. Kenny is without some key players, however, including John Egan, James McCarthy, Adam Idah, and Jack Byrne.

Bazunu and O’Hara are the only players included who have not yet featured in at least one squad under Kenny so far – O’Hara was named for the opening games in September but missed out through injury – with Troy Parrott included among the forwards. Ireland go into the qualifiers in the slough of a historically bad goalless run, having not scored in 660 minutes of international action. 

Ireland face Serbia away next Wednesday, 24 March, ahead of the Dublin meeting with Luxembourg on Saturday, 27 March. The friendly game with Qatar takes place in Hungary on 30 March. 

Goalkeepers: Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Gavin Bazunu (Rochdale, on loan from Manchester City), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth), Kieran O’Hara (Burton Albion).

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Shane Duffy (Celtic, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Kevin Long (Burnley), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Ryan Manning (Swansea City), Cyrus Christie (Nottingham Forest).

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Midfielders: Conor Hourihane (Swansea City, on loan from Aston Villa), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Jayson Molumby (Preston North End, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Jason Knight (Derby County), Josh Cullen (Anderlecht).

Wingers: Robbie Brady (Burnley), James McClean (Stoke City), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City).

Strikers: Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Shane Long (AFC Bournemouth, on loan from Southampton), James Collins (Luton Town), Troy Parrott (Ipswich Town, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur).

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Gavin Cooney

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