Five Irish talking points from the weekend’s English football action

Five Irish talking points from the weekend’s English football action

Fergie Will Get Time 

If last season was the breakthrough year for Evan Ferguson, then Brighton and Ireland fans will be hoping this year marks the beginning of sustained success for the 18-year-old. The former Bohemians striker marked his return to Premier League action with a late goal off the bench in Brighton’s 4-1 victory against Luton Town.

Despite his promising start to the season, Ferguson does not yet appear to be in Roberto De Zerbi’s first-choice starting XI, with Danny Welbeck currently preferred to lead the line ahead of him. The Ireland international did not start any of Brighton’s four pre-season games and was limited to just 105 minutes of action off the bench.


At such a young age, there’s little reason to worry about Ferguson finding himself out of the team to begin the season. With European football on the horizon for Brighton, Ferguson will have every chance to make the starting position his own during the season.

Tough Start for Bazunu

It’s been a tough two weeks for Gavin Bazunu. The Southampton goalkeeper has returned to their starting XI for their Championship campaign under new manager Russell Martin, but has conceded five goals from seven shots on target faced in the Saints’ first two games.


Admittedly, there was absolutely nothing he could do about any of Norwich’s goals in their 4-4 draw, nor Sheffield Wednesday’s equaliser in an eventual 2-1 victory for the Saints. However, it can’t be a good thing for the young keeper’s confidence, which already needed a much-needed boost after a difficult 22/23 Premier League campaign.

Southampton face a relatively favourable run of fixtures before the September international break against Plymouth, QPR and Sunderland. Stephen Kenny will no doubt be hoping his first-choice keeper can build himself up before Ireland’s crucial EURO 2024 Qualifiers against France and the Netherlands.

Fresh Start for Connolly?

Between injuries and unsuccessful loan periods, it’s not been the easiest few seasons for Aaron Connolly.

However, a permanent move to Hull City from Brighton in the summer window could spark the fresh start the 23-year-old needs to revitalise his career. The Galway-born striker managed two goals in five games for the Tigers last season before an unfortunate toe injury in February ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.

Connolly has been limited to substitute appearances in the first two games of the season, yet opened his account for the campaign at the weekend against Sheffield Wednesday. Ireland and Hull City fans alike will be hoping this is a sign of things to come.

Szmodics Still Firing

Sammie Szmodics had a game to forget at the weekend – until he didn’t.

A missed penalty and a misplaced pass to gift Rotherham a goal marked disastrous first half for the uncapped Irish international. However, he followed it up with a brace to salvage a point for Rovers on the road and take his tally to two goals and an assist from Blackburn’s first two Championship games.

The 27-year-old hasn’t received an international call-up since 2021, yet penetration in midfield is arguably the area where Stephen Kenny’s side struggles most. If Szmodics continues in this vein it’s hard to see him remaining uncapped for much longer.

London Buses for Sinclair?

Queens Park Rangers look set for a tough year in the Championship. A poor finish to the 22/23 season did not inspire confidence, while several of last season’s key players departed in the summer transfer window without adequate replacements.

Yet, one bright spot could be Irish U21 international Sinclair Armstrong finding his feet at Championship level. The 19-year-old made 22 league appearances last season without scoring but got off the mark at the weekend as QPR triumphed 2-1 away to Cardiff City.

The former Shamrock Rovers man was introduced from the bench at half-time as QPR fell to a 4-0 hammering away to Watford and was entrusted to lead the line from the start at the Cardiff City Stadium. He’s certainly one to watch for the rest of the season.