Lukas Jutkiewicz could be in line for an Ireland call-up ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier against Wales in March after registering his interest in representing the Boys in Green.
The England-born striker has said that he would ’embrace’ the opportunity of pulling on the green jersey.
Jutkiewicz, who plays with current international Stephen Gleeson at Birmingham City, joined the Blues on loan from Burnley at the start of the season and made the switch permanent last month. He has scored eight league goals this season and found the net against Newcastle in the FA Cup over the weekend.
Prior to his goalless spell at Burnley, the striker enjoyed stints at Swindon, Everton, Coventry and Middlesbrough as well as several loan spells elsewhere. Having struggled for consistent goalscoring in the past, he is enjoying a fruitful season at St. Andrews.
Eligible for Ireland through his grandmother, the 27-year-old also qualifies for his native England as well as his grandfather’s birth place, Poland. However, Jutkiewicz has yet to be formally contacted by any country and is said to be a target for Martin O’Neill.
Speaking to the Sunday Times (via Goal.com), the Southampton native had this to say on any potential Irish interest in him:
“We have Stephen Gleeson with us here who has been in the Ireland squad and he mentioned my name had been in the papers over there, but other than that I haven’t heard anything.
“I would embrace anybody wanting me in their squad or team, but I don’t know if I would be wanted. So until that question is asked it is difficult for me to give an answer, but anybody would want to play international football.
“My paternal grandmother was Irish. Whether she was actually born in Ireland or moved to Ireland at an early age I am not entirely sure.”
Following the retirement of Robbie Keane last summer, O’Neill is anxious to add more firepower to his attack. Scott Hogan has been long tipped for an Irish call-up and is eligible having already been called into the Irish Under-21 side three years ago. However, his club at the time, Rochdale, blocked his call-up and the 24-year-old has yet to comment on his international intentions.
However, Jutkiewicz is certainly an option and following his apparent willingness to declare, could be a realistic option to provide competition to Jon Walters and Shane Long.
A tall and powerful striker, the ex-Coventry player presents a robust ariel threat – scoring six headed goals this season. He would certainly offer an alternative option for O’Neill and could be involved as soon as March.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena