With Darren Randolph and Daryl Murphy both departing the Premier League in the last few days, a number of Irish players in England’s top flight is dwindling.
Sunderland and Hull’s relegations saw John O’Shea and Darron Gibson drop out of the league while Aiden McGeady became their teammate after joining from Everton. It is unclear if more will follow suit but thankfully there are a few Irishmen who could make an impact in the Premier League this season.
More Irishmen could end up signing with Premier League clubs before the season’s end and any of the following could leave, however, they are a number of players judging by their performances last season or during preseason that could certainly feature for their clubs in the top flight.
Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Not his first taste of the Premier League but Shane Duffy will hope to maintain his status as a regular under Chris Hughton as the Seagulls make the leap to the big time. Was colossal for the Championship runners up despite missing the end of the season through injury. Has established himself as Martin O’Neill’s first choice centre half and will hope to improve on his ever developing game. His physicality and passion will be something to look forward to as he attempts to help his side avoid relegation.
Kevin Long (Burnley)
The 26-year-old Cork man got a run with the Clarets towards the end of last season. This propelled him into a starting berth for last months tie against Austria where the former Cork City man looked assured. At domestic level, Sean Dyche seems to be warming to the player who has been loaned out several times. With the Irish contingent ever growing at Turf Moor, Long knows eyes will be on him and will hope to continue to improve. The departure of Michael Keane could open a window of opportunity for the centre half. His robust style and work rate epitomise way Burnley are about and he could be one of the few Irish earning a regular slot next term.
Sean Scannell (Huddersfield Town)
New boys Huddersfield boast one solitary Irishman in their ranks in Sean Scannell. The London born player burst onto the scene as a teenager with Crystal Palace and was called up by Giovanni Trappatoni as an 18-year-old nearly a decade ago. A standout performer at underage level, Scannell was injured for much of last season but is a fan favourite with the Premier League new boys. It is hard to know if his injuries have pushed him down the pecking order, especially with the arrival of Tom Ince. However, Scannell’s blistering paste and direct style could be displayed in the top flight for the first time. Still eligible for Northern Ireland and Jamaica, Martin O’Neill won’t be the only keen eye should Scannell get a chance next season.
Declan Rice (West Ham United)
With John O’Shea dropping down a division next season, another could step up to the plate. Already called up to the senior squad by Martin O’Neill, teenager Declan Rice is considered a player beyond his years. A former Chelsea youth, Rice made his Premier League debut on the last day of the 2016/17 season and has featured for Slavan Bilic in pre-season. A physical, assured and vocal player, Rice will hope to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Frank Lampard, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, Joe Cole and fellow centre half Rio Ferdinand in graduating from the famous West Ham Academy. A genuinely exciting prospect who should feature in the next year.
Josh Cullen (West Ham United)
A player who looks the real deal and could be a full international in the next couple of years, Josh Cullen is another West Ham youngster who could see some game time next season. With two seasons of senior football at Bradford, Cullen looked a cut above his midfield peers in league one. A technically gifted and swift passing midfielder, Cullen has a similar playing style to his club captain Mark Noble. Has captained the Ireland under 21s and has already played a handful of first team matches in various competitions as well as making the bench several times. Another to feature in pre season, Cullen will hope to capitalise on the departure of Havard Nordtveit.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena