Josh Cullen has been called into the Ireland squad for Mick McCarthy’s big return against Georgia and Gibraltar.
The West Ham academy product, currently on loan at Charlton Athletic has previously captained Ireland at U21 level despite being born in England.
However, unlike another high-profile West Ham academy product who plied his trade with Ireland before defecting to England, Cullen has chosen to stick with the ‘Boys in Green’ telling reporters on Tuesday that once he committed to Ireland he was fully committed.
“I played Under-16s for England, one appearance, and then I played Under-19s European qualifiers for Ireland and then captained the 21s and made a lot of appearances for the 21s,” Cullen said at the FAI HQ in Abbottstown.
“As soon as I committed myself to Ireland, I was fully committed. This is what I’ve dreamt of, being part of the senior squad and I’m over the moon and really proud to be here.”
Injury to Alan Browne forced his withdrawal from the squad, leaving the door open for Cullen to be called in despite not being named in McCarthy’s 38-man provisional squad.
It was a decision that came as a surprise to fans, media and Cullen himself.
“It came as a surprise. I saw the provisional squad and I wasn’t named in it,” the 22-year-old said.
“And then Friday morning, before we were due to meet up on Sunday, (Charlton manager) Lee Bowyer called me into the boot room before we were about to train and asked, ‘Have you heard the good news? Mick McCarthy’s just been on the phone and he’s going to call you into the squad’.
“So, obviously I was buzzing with the news and really happy to be called up for the first time to the senior team for my country. It was brilliant news.”