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A Premier League XI Made Up Of Players Who Could Have Declared For Ireland

Ireland have been the beneficiaries of the ‘granny rule’ for decades.

Many English top flight legends like John Aldridge, Andy Townsend and Kevin Sheedy are examples of talented players to switch allegiances to the Boys in Green. In recent times, that trend has become more difficult with the influence of agents and the fact Ireland have not featured in a World Cup since 2002.

Paul Scholes, Martin Keown and Paul Gascoigne were players of the past who could have togged out for Ireland with their quality quickly locked in by England. The Irish influx in the UK has indeed seen a number of quality footballers of Irish decent grace the English top flight.

A number of Premier League players remain eligible for Ireland. The likes of Mark Noble have openly declared a disinterest in representing Ireland while the likes of Kyle Naughton have never really been considered.

Here we select a starting XI made up of players who were eligible for Ireland but chose to represent their native England or Scotland. Two on the list are still technically eligible for Ireland but the rest have forged, or are in the process or forging, decent international careers.

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GK: Joe Hart (West Ham United)

Hart was eligible for Ireland through the granny rule but capped from under-19 level up by England and he now has 75 England caps to his name.

Partly responsible for forcing Shay Given out of Manchester City and Darren Randolph out of West Ham. The latter has shown that Hart was possibly not a better alternative.

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DEF: Jon Flanagan (Liverpool) *still eligible

Technically still eligible for Ireland, Flanagan has one solitary cap for England which came virtue of a friendly appearance against Ecuador.

His form with Liverpool in 2014 saw him as a standby player for England’s World Cup squad but injury and off-field issues have seen him drop way down the pecking order.

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DEF: Gary Cahill (Chelsea)

Cahill was tipped for an Ireland call-up nearly a decade ago while at Bolton. The centre-half has gone on to become captain of both club and country and has stated that he was glad he stuck with England.

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DEF: Michael Keane (Everton)

Son of a Dubliner, the £25 million defender had represented Ireland at under-17 and under-19 level. Twin of Hull striker Will who has more or less declared his intentions to represent the Boys in Green.

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DEF: Ryan Bertrand (Southampton)

One of the Premier League’s best left-backs and could have filled a real problem position for Ireland. The Southampton man’s grandfather hails from Crumlin and was locked down to the England team while at Chelsea.

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MID: Aaron Lennon (Burnley)

An Irish name and son of an Irishwoman, a teenage Lennon was a shock inclusion in England’s 2006 World Cup squad.

Recently signed for Burnley and could have added to the Clarets’ strong Irish contingent.

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MID: Darren Fletcher (Stoke City)

Another with an Irish mammy, Darren Fletcher was quickly capped by Scotland while still a teenager at Manchester United.

Has struggled to fill the void left by Glenn Whelan at Stoke and could easily have formed a long-standing partnership with the Dubliner for Ireland.

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MID: Jonjo Shelvey (Newcastle United)

The Newcastle man was seemingly offered a chance of senior international football with Ireland as a teenager at Charlton.

The 25-year-old was also eligible for Scotland but has gone on to win six England caps, including competitive appearances.

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MID: Nathan Redmond (Southampton) *still eligible

Like Flanagan, Redmond is still eligible for Ireland as his solitary England cap came in a friendly. However, it seems unlikely that he will switch allegiances having amassed an incredible 87 caps for England in total from under-16 level up.

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FW: Wayne Rooney (Everton)

The Everton man always pops up in converstation about ‘what could have been’ Ireland internationals. Eligible through his paternal grandparents, Rooney never really considered pulling on the green jersey and retired from England duty after 53 goals in 119 games.

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FW: Harry Kane (Tottenham)

Kane looked a realistic option for Ireland early on in his career with his father hailing from Galway. However, his form at underage level for the Three Lions translated into his club game and he looks like he could become one of England’s greatest strikers.

A huge loss for Ireland but never seemed destined for the Boys in Green.

Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena

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Author: Nick Menezes

Nick is a soccer, GAA and rugby fanatic who has a worrying obsession with the Irish football team. His articles focus on Irish football and he also writes some light-hearted pieces, particularly quirky starting XIs.