With fear over a lack of Irish talent emerging from academies in England, a number of bright prospects have burst onto the scene this season across the Irish sea.
The talent pool in Ireland seems to be growing too with Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle making moves to Preston while other League of Ireland players like Sean Maguire, Brandon Miele and Dylan Connolly are prime examples of those who have come home only to develop into even better players.
However, for the first time in a a few years a number of Irish underage internationals are finally making the breakthrough having graduated from their club academies. Although the listed players are all playing in the Championship, the added money and increasing amount of internationals in England’s second tier makes their rise an impressive feat.
With the Premier League still a gold mine, with limited opportunities for young players, these youngsters are making a name for themselves and will fancy their chances of a crack at the top.
Olamide Shodipo (Queens Park Rangers)
Leixlip man Shodipo made a strong start to the season as a regular under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Starts have been scarce since the Dutchman’s sacking, however the winger is still highly regarded at Loftus Road.
He is a regular in the match day squads and with QPR putting a run of games together the pacy midfielder could be set for a run to maintain their momentum.
Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers)
Lenihan has become a starter for Blackburn after a few seasons on the periphery of the first team. He is now a key player for the strugglers and has developed into a ball-playing centre-back despite being a midfielder by trade.
Capable of spraying some magnificent passes from his own half, Lenihan is also a robust player who is strong in the air. Having captained the Ireland Under-21s, he will be hoping to make another breakthrough in 2017 to the senior Irish squad.
Tom Field (Brentford)
Brentford’s Tom Field has enjoyed s promising start to the Championship season. Since key player Jake Bidwell left the club, the London-born player has forced his was into the team.
Capped at under-16 level for Ireland, Field can play at left-back or left midfield. With left-back s problem position for Ireland, Field will hope to catch the eye of Martin O’Neill, but an under-21 call may come first.
Liam Kelly (Reading)
Fresh from signing a new contract with Reading, Liam Kelly is one of Ireland’s most exciting prospects. With a style similar to that of Andy Reid or Wes Hoolahan, technically gifted Kelly is a consistent starter for the Royals.
Already a member of Noel King’s Under-21 side, Kelly possesses the skill sometimes missing from the Ireland squad.
Ryan Manning (Queens Park Rangers)
Having made a sensational debut for QPR on New Year’s Eve, Galweigen Manning looks set for a run of games with the Rs. A set-piece specialist, Manning is another player that could soon feature for the senior team having played at underage level.
Capable of playing in midfield or up front, Manning is certainly a player to watch out for. He has started the Rs’ last two games and has garnered much praise.
Connor Ronan (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
One of Wolves’ hottest prospects, England-born Ronan has represented Ireland at various underage levels. An attacking midfielder by trade, the 18-year-old is another exciting young Championship prospect.
The former Rochdale youth has been the subject of a tug-of-war between England and Ireland but seems content and proud of wearing the green shirt, especially when he played in the Under-17 European Championship.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena
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