It has been an impressive season for some of Ireland’s young guns this season. Irishmen in the Championship have enjoyed a fruitful term and will be pushing for international honours.
Daryl Horgan and Conor Hourihane are two uncapped players who look very likely to make Martin O’Neill’s squad in a couple of weeks time.
However, some other uncapped stars have put their hands up in recent months to justify consideration for the squad.
Alan Browne (Preston North End)
In a team full of Irishmen, the former Cork City man has perhaps garnered the least number of column inches when compared to his compatriots. Daryl Horgan and Aiden McGeady in particular have been in dazzling form of late, with Greg Cunningham also impressing.
However, Browne has been a regular with North End since 2014 and is one of their key men. Capable of playing as a holding midfielder, Brown is a great passer and a robust tackler.
The 21-year-old has been linked with a Premier League move in the past and will hope to make the senior grade for Ireland having scored three goals in eleven games for the Under-21s.
John Egan (Brentford)
Another Corkman hopeful of a call-up, Egan has enjoyed his first season at Brentford. A prolific centre-half with Gillingham prior to his move to the Bees, the 24-year-old has captained Ireland’s Under-21s and is a natural leader.
Egan, who’s a powerful centre-back, will hope to push Ireland’s fringe centre-backs Paul McShane and Alex Pearce. He is back in the Brentford side having been overlooked for a spell and scored against promotion chasers Sheffield Wednesday last week.
Liam Kelly (Reading)
It seems a disgrace that Kelly only earned one Ireland Under-21 cap while eligible for the age group. However, the England-born midfielder should certainly be pushing for the senior side following a string of impressive performances for promotion-chasing Reading in the Championship.
A technically gifted midfielder, Kelly’s style is similar to that of a young Andy Reid and could be a quality addition to the Ireland squad.
Ryan Manning (QPR)
Another youngster enjoying a breakthrough season, Galwayman Manning has quickly become a favourite of Rs boss Ian Holloway. A versatile player capable of playing across the midfield and up front, the 20-year-old could easily bypass Noel King’s Under-21 side to go straight into the senior set-up.
With a powerful left foot and impressive vision, Manning will hope to keep up his form that has contributed to a turnaround in fortunes for QPR.
Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City)
Although there has been no formal declaration by England-born Jutkiewicz, the 27-year-old admitted he would embrace pulling on the green jersey. With ten goals this season, his ariel threat would help to add to the lack of striking power at Martin O’Neill’s disposal.
The former Everton player is also eligible for Poland and his native England, however a call-up for the Welsh game may not be out of the question.
Chris Forrester (Peterborough)
A meteoric rise for the former St.Pat’s and Bohemians man. Named captain of the Posh for the season, the Dubliner has been successfully converted from a winger to a holding midfielder and has controlled games for his side while leading by example.
Following an impressive showing against Chelsea in the FA Cup, Forrester would have sent out a gentle reminder that although he is playing in a lower league, he is a more than capable player and exciting prospect.
Callum Robinson (Preston North End)
Another striker who has not publicly declared for Ireland, but the former Aston Villa trainee was deemed eligible by the FAI and could be in line for a call-up.
Scott Hogan has been hot on the lips of Ireland fans but is currently injured and Patrick Bamford would need to switch his international allegiances for a second time, which is a lengthy process.
Robinson is a quick, energetic player and, like Jutkiewicz, could ease Martin O’Neill’s attacking concerns.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena