On Wednesday, Stephen Kenny named his first 23-man Irish U21s squad ahead of their European Qualifier against Luxembourg on March 23rd.
The former Dundalk boss included 23 players in his squad with a mix of domestic standouts and young prospects impressing in both England and central Europe.
With the plethora of young talent available to Stephen Kenny and the U21s, there was always going to be a handful of players who would not make the final squad.
Here we look at five players who can consider themselves unlucky not to have been included in Wednesday’s Irish U21s squad.
Ryan Nolan (Inter Milan)
Captain of the Inter Milan’s U19s side and on the bench for their recent Europa League tie with Rapid Vienna, Ryan Nolan was an unusual omission from Kenny’s squad.
The new boss did outline that Nolan was on the standby list during his press conference today, but given his pedigree in the academy of one of the biggest clubs in European football, not selecting him in the 23-man squad could certainly go down as a surprise.
A strong central defender, the 20-year-old has played for Ireland’s U18s but is no longer eligible for Tom Mohan’s U19s, thus making the 21s his primary international team.
Nolan will likely be involved in Kenny’s squad going forward and to have him on the standby list is an indication that the ex-Dundalk boss is fully aware of his talents.
It’s a matter of when and not if for the Inter Milan defender.
Ryan Johansson (Bayern Munich)
The Bayern Munich midfielder declared for Ireland a number of months ago, but the 18-year old will have to wait for his chance in Stephen Kenny’s side.
Johansson is still eligible for the Irish U19s but cannot play in the elite phase of the European U19s Championship having already represented Luxembourg in the competition.
There’s also the fact that Luxembourg are Ireland’s opponents come the 23rd of March but it’s unclear as to whether or not his ties to the country have anything to do with his omission.
It’s likely just the case that Kenny feels it’s too early for Johansson or he hasn’t seen enough of the Bayern Munich man to justify his selection.
Ryan Cassidy (Watford)
The last of the Ryans to appear in this article, a U21 call-up may have come just a tad too early for Watford striker Cassidy.
The 18-year-old, however, is surely not far off Kenny’s radar given the season he is currently having for Watford’s U18s and U23s.
A natural goalscorer, Cassidy is the captain of the Hornets’ U18s side and has scored six goals in just three games to help Watford to the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup.
The former St Kevin’s man was always an outside shout for a spot in the 23-man squad, with the U19s a more likely destination for him at this stage in his career.
Aaron Connolly (Luton Town – On Loan From Brighton)
Unlucky in the sense that injury robbed him of inclusion, it’s highly likely that Luton Town’s on-loan Brighton striker would have been a part of Stephen Kenny’s first 23-man squad.
Prolific before his setback, Connolly has scored 16 goals in 19 games across all competitions for Brighton’s underage sides this season and picked up the Premier League 2 Player of the Month award for November.
Connolly has appeared for the U19s but was unlucky to miss out on Tom Mohan’s side’s games in October, such is the plethora of talent Ireland have at their disposal at that level.
Another player who you feel, when he’s fit, could be a vital part of Kenny’s side.
Aaron Bolger (Cardiff City – On Loan From Shamrock Rovers)
On loan at the Bluebirds from Shamrock Rovers, 18-year old Aaron Bolger can consider himself a tad hard done by to not see himself included in Kenny’s squad.
Bolger was a key part of Ireland’s U19s side who reached the elite phase of the European qualifying, starting all three of the Group 10 games in October.
The on-loan Cardiff man has been featuring for their U23s, recently starting in their win against Hull, however being born in 2000 means he is still eligible for the U19s side.
Kenny also picked him for the home-based U21s squad last month, making the decision all the more unusual.