An XI of England players who were eligible for the Ireland team.
Numerous key England players could have lined out for the Republic of Ireland, as players such as Harry Kane, Jack Grealish and Harry Maguire all have Irish ancestry.
England are one of the favourites for Qatar World Cup and Ireland would almost certainly have qualified for the 24 team competition had some of those players been available for selection.
Goalkeeper: Alex McCarthy (Southampton).
Alex McCarthy is eligible to play for Ireland, according to Football Manager. Yet, if there is one position that Stephen Kenny’s side do not lack in quality, it is between the posts.
Ireland have some very capable goalkeepers at their disposal, including Darren Randolph and Caoimhin Kelleher.
McCarthy has been a regular Southampton in recent seasons and would possibly be an asset to the Irish squad.
The 31 year-old has played for England once in a friendly match so could still transfer his allegiance to Ireland at some stage in the future.
Right-back: Kyle Naughton (Swansea City).
Kyle Naughton has been a mainstay for Swansea City since joining them in 2015. However, similar to the goalkeeper slot, right-back is not a position where Ireland are not short of options.
Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty are two of Ireland’s better players so Naughton would struggle to break into the team.
Naughton has nine England Under-21 caps but has never played for their senior team.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire (Manchester United).
Harry Maguire would be one of the best players in the Ireland squad if he chose to play for the country of his ancestors.
The Man United captain is physically strong, good in the air and is an excellent passer of the ball. Kenny would love to a defender of his quality available for selection.
Though he might not get in ahead of Nathan Collins now…
Centre-back: Michael Keane (Everton).
Michael Keane played for Ireland at Under-17 and Under-19 level along with his twin brother Will. The former Man United youth player has carved out a very decent club career and has represented England on 12 occasions.
The Everton defender is a physical player who is comfortable with the ball at his feet. Keane and Maguire would be an excellent partnership and one which would suit Stephen Kenny’s style of football.
— Everton (@Everton) January 12, 2021
Left-back: Jon Flanagan (Charleroi).
When Liverpool came very close to winning the league in the 2013-2014 season, Jon Flanagan was in the starting team every week and was a key player in Brendan Rodgers’s team.
Flanagan had an operation on his left knee in September 2014 and never reached the same heights upon his return from injury.
The Liverpudlian made one appearance for England in a friendly game and was a standby member of the 2014 England world cup squad. He is currently playing with Belgian side Charleroi.
Central-midfield: Declan Rice (West Ham).
Declan Rice is the only one on this team who has played for Ireland at senior level. But the West Ham star transferred his international allegiances to England, the country of his birth, after winning three Irish caps.
However, what nobody can deny is that Rice is an excellent ability. He has all the attributes to be a top class footballer, particularly at international level.
The 22 year-old can hold possession, anchor a defence and is a creative passer as well. Rice is also very versatile and can play in numerous different positions.
The West Ham star really is one that got away from an Irish perspective.
Central-midfield: James Maddison (Leicester City).
James Maddison has an Irish grandparent and was linked with a move to Ireland in 2020.
The 22 year-old has produced some very impressive performances for Leicester City over the past two seasons. He is a creative footballer who can play in centre-midfield or out on the wing.
Maddison has played for England in a competitive game so is ineligible to play for Ireland in the future. He recently won an FA Cup title with Leicester and has huge potential.
Central-midfield: Jack Grealish (Manchester City).
It’s not a stretch to say that Jack Grealish could have been the best Ireland player of his generation in another world. The Manchester City star has 19 Ireland caps between Under-17, Under-18 and Under-21 level.
Grealish played GAA at underage level, but he decided to play for England in 2015. Ireland’s loss is certainly England’s gain and he has the potential to make a massive difference for Gareth Southgate’s side at the World Cup.
Striker: Patrick Bamford (Leeds United).
Similar to Grealish, Patrick Bamford also represented Ireland at underage level before switching to the country of his birth,
There have been numerous unsuccessful attempts to convince the 27-year-old Leeds striker to link up with the Ireland squad. Kenny recently ruled out making another approach for the player.
Bamford, however, is exactly what the Ireland team needs, as he knows where the back of the net is.
Striker: Callum Wilson (Newcastle United).
Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson was eligible to line out for Ireland at one stage. Wilson has gradually improved as he has developed and he made the World Cup squad.
Striker: Harry Kane (Tottenham).
Harry Kane is one of the best footballers in the world. Both of his father’s parents are Irish, but Kane was always set on playing for England.
Kane would be starting for any country in the world, but it could have been Ireland if things went differently for him.
He helped to replace Robbie Keane at Tottenham and it would have been an Irish dream had Kane done the same at international level.
An XI of England footballers who could have played for Ireland.