IT MAY ONLY have been the EFL Trophy, but the fact that Jack Byrne seems to be enjoying his football again is encouraging from an Irish perspective.
The 21-year-old was highly rated by Patrick Vieira during their time together a Man City, while an eye-catching loan spell at Eredivisie side Cambuur during the 2015-16 campaign enhanced the Dubliner’s reputation.
Byrne’s form at club level was rewarded in March last year, when he was called up by Martin O’Neill to train with the Ireland senior squad as they underwent early preparations for Euro 2016.
However, since then, Byrne’s career probably has not progressed in the manner he would have hoped.
A loan spell at Blackburn last season proved fruitless, as he featured just four times in the Championship for the struggling side.
He subsequently joined Wigan permanently from Man City in the January transfer window, but has so far made just two substitute appearances for the Latics.
This season though, for the first time since his stint in Holland, Byrne has enjoyed a regular run of games at senior level, having joined League One side Oldham on loan in the summer window.
The club may be struggling — they are currently 18th, three points above the relegation zone — but Byrne has played 15 matches in all competitions.
Last night, despite the less than glamorous occasion, the former Ireland U21 international clearly made an impression, scoring twice — his fourth and fifth goals of the season — and was “head and shoulders above everybody else” according to the Sky Sports reporter at the ground.
And Byrne is not the only Irish player who is proving to be influential for Richie Wellens’ side.
Eoin Doyle, on loan from Preston, also scored a brace in the 4-1 victory over Newcastle’s U21s.
The 29-year-old former Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers striker has registered 11 goals in 14 appearances overall since joining the club in the close season.
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