Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle could be set for debuts against high profile opposition. Preston North End welcome Arsenal to Deepdale in their third round FA Cup tie and Simon Grayson has hinted that the duo could be in contention to feature.
Newstalk reported that the Preston boss will run the rule over the former Dundalk duo in the coming weeks. Both are ineligible to represent North End until their contracts officially commence at the start of the January transfer window. The pair will hope to catch the eye of Grayson who already has a strong Irish contingent.
In fact one of them was a former League of Ireland player himself. Alan Browne joined the Lancaster club in 2014 from Cork City and has been tipped for full international honours. Greg Cunningham, Eoin Doyle and the familiar face of Aiden McGeady are also on Preston’s books.
What makes Horgan’s move even more interesting is that he will most likely compete with Everton loanee McGeady for one of Preston’s wide berths, a battle that could transfer to international level. McGeady has endured a mixed season so far at North End and will certainly feel threatened by the in-form Horgan.
Boyle’s breakthrough could be more challenging. The Palmerstown native faces stiff competition from Australian international Bailey Wright, club captain Tom Clarke and Preston’s 2015 player of the season Paul Huntington. However, Boyle’s form in the Europa League not to mention his international recognition will certainly stand to him.
The visit of Arsenal can provide a perfect platform not to only catch the eye of Horgan and Boyle’s new boss Grayson but also Martin O’Neill. Having successfully cut their teeth against European opposition, this tie will certainly allow the pair to push their games to the next level.
Grayson holds both in high regard and will hopefully provide them with an opportunity to impress. With Ireland’s qualifier against Wales in March, the Irish management team will no doubt begin their scouting preparation. Given the number of Irishmen due to play in Arsenal game, the spotlight can firmly be placed on Dundalk’s former heroes.
Just under a year ago, Ritchie Towell made the move across the water to Brighton. Things have yet to work out for the man who was a dominant force in the League of Ireland. Although Towell’s chance may still come, Grayson seems to be keen to enshrine Boyle and Horgan firmly into his plans. The visit of Arsenal could not only serve as a dream debut for Horgan and Boyle, but also an opportunity to start an exciting new chapter in their careers.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena