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Cork boss proposes compulsory inclusion of LOI players in Ireland training squads

“It gives us recognition, it gives the league recognition… the more of that we have, the better for our league.”

John Caulfield during the game Cork City manager John Caulfield. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

CORK CITY MANAGER John Caulfield has welcomed Graham Burke’s international recognition, insisting that the Shamrock Rovers attacker’s involvement in Ireland’s game against France reflects positively on the League of Ireland as a whole.

Caulfield also proposed the introduction of a system of compulsory inclusion of home-based players in Martin O’Neill’s squad for training camps.

Having scored 10 Premier Division goals for Rovers so far this season — including a spectacular strike against Cork City last month — Burke played the final 20 minutes of last night’s 2-0 loss at Stade de France. The 24-year-old became the first SSE Airtricity League player to be capped by Ireland since Cork City midfielder Joe Gamble in 2007.

Bohemians goalkeeper Shane Supple is also currently in the Ireland squad ahead of Saturday evening’s friendly against USA at the Aviva Stadium.

Graham Burke with Djibril Sidibe Graham Burke of Shamrock Rovers and Ireland closes down France's Djibril Sidibe. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“Any League of Ireland player that can get any coverage — Graham Burke, Shane Supple, anyone — is of benefit to our league,” Caulfield said this afternoon. “I know a lot of people speak about token gestures and stuff like that. I’m of the opinion that I would love to see any League of Ireland player getting called in.

“It gives us recognition, it gives the league recognition, and the more of that we have, the better for our league. I remember at one stage 15 or 20 years ago, they used to bring in two or three players for every squad session to train. I remember Stephen Geoghegan, Glen Crowe and guys like that were called in.

“I’d love if it was compulsory that we had two, three or four players called into every training session. It raises the level and it raises the profile.”

He added: “You hear our league being compared to different standards. At the end of the day, the top teams in our league have done exceptionally well in Europe for a long time, going back to Shamrock Rovers winning the league in 2010 and ’11. I welcome any League of Ireland player getting called into the squad.”

Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane Ireland manager Martin O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Caulfield believes the likes of Cork City winger Kieran Sadlier and Dundalk midfielder Robbie Benson could also be capable of following in the footsteps of Burke and Supple.

The 53-year-old, who guided City to their first Premier Division title in 12 years last season, is also hopeful that Burke’s international debut can help to convince the FAI that the domestic league is worthy of increased investment. In total, eight of the 17 players who featured for the Boys in Green against the French have played for League of Ireland clubs.

“I suppose I’m a stuck record because that [increased investment] is what I’ve been saying for a long time. Hopefully that will happen,” Caulfield said ahead of City’s Munster derby showdown with Waterford at Turner’s Cross on Friday night.

“If we could get the likes of Burke and Supple, maybe Sadlier, maybe Benson and these guys… if we could get these guys into Irish training panels, it certainly would help.

Kieran Sadlier celebrates scoring a late goal Cork City's Kieran Sadlier celebrates after scoring his second goal in Friday's win against St Patrick's Athletic. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“There’s no doubt about it: when Graham Burke comes on and he’s representing Shamrock Rovers, that is an honour, and people know that he’s playing with a club here.

“The standard of the league has been high for a long time, but when something like that happens it gives it that kudos that we need. I’d love if Martin and Roy [Keane] could keep calling guys in because I think it’s great for our league.”

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Paul Dollery

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