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Ten Players Hoping For A Big August To Force Their Way Into The Ireland Squad

UEFA Europa League Second Qualifying Round Second Leg, AEK Arena, Larnaca, Cyprus 20/7/2017 AEK Larnaca FC vs Cork City Cork's Sean Maguire after playing his last game for the club

With Ireland’s crunch qualifiers against Georgia and Serbia under a month away, a number of Irishmen will be hoping to use the next month to force their way into Martin O’Neill’s squad.

Many of Ireland’s available players are back in domestic action and will be hoping to catch the eye of the Irish manager. After Ireland’s lacklustre draw against Austria in June, O’Neill may call on some new faces to increase competition and add a new dimension to his squad. We look at a number of players who will be hoping for a big August to put themselves into contention for next month’s games.

Sean Maguire (Preston North End)

It seems hard to imagine Maguire will be excluded from next month’s squad after his continued goal scoring form for Cork and his impressive start to life at Preston. Out of all Ireland’s striking options, he is possibly the most capable of beating defenders one on one and arguably Ireland’s best available finisher. Some will wonder why he was not at least capped in the summer friendlies but a half decent month will no doubt see him earn at the very least a provisional call up to the Irish squad, although that is the least he deserves.

Some will wonder why he was not at least capped in the summer friendlies but a half decent month will no doubt see him earn at the very least a provisional call up to the Irish squad, although that is the least he deserves.

Johnny Hayes (Celtic)

The exception of this list as he has already become part of Martin O’Neill plans. Hayes was impressive as Ireland defeated Uruguay in June and will now hope to see some competitive action. Looks likely to be Ireland’s only Champions League representative and despite having just turned 30 is in terrific condition and can offer a huge amount for club and country. A tricky winger who has an eye for goal and terrific delivery, Hayes could be the next Wes Hoolahan and will hope to see game time next month.

Matt Doherty (Wolves)

Has been a key player for Wolves who spent big this summer and will be gunning for promotion. Equally adept at left and right back, Doherty has been involved in a number of provisional squads only to be ousted by Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie and Stephen Ward. The former Bohemien’s man loves to get forward and is comfortable under dead balls. He will be hoping for a big month and could finally get a full call up for Georgia and Serbia.

Liam Kelly (Reading)

A genuinely exciting prospect that is very unlucky not to be a Premier League player this season. Kelly has already been acknowledged by Martin O’Neill with provisional call ups and deserves a chance to showcase his talents for his country.  A slight 5’6 but strong and fast players who plays either in the number 10 or holding role. Began the season with defeat but will hope to remind O’Neill of his tremendous potential for an Irish side that can lack creativity.

Sean Scannell (Huddersfield Town)

It is unclear to what Sean Scannell’s involvement with Huddersfield will be this season but he is highly regarded by David Wagner. With Ireland’s Premier League contingent dwindling, Scannell could use the Terriers promotion as a platform to relaunch his international career. Dazzled at underage level and was long tipped to become a full international, Scannell’s first Irish call up came at the age of 18 under Giovanni Trappatoni. With outstanding pace and a direct style that Martin O’Neill favours, should Scannell get a run of games he could stake a claim for selection next month.

Greg Cunningham (Preston)

The recently appointed Preston captain has recovered from a broken leg to put himself back into the international reckoning. An athletic full back with great pace, a cracking delivery and ability to beat players, it is hard to know how the Galweigen has been overlooked for so long. Part of the strong Irish contingent at Deepdale, there is little between the 26-year-old and Stephen Ward ability wise with the Burnley man the more experienced option at present.

Cillian Sheridan (Jagiellonia Bialystok)

With 9 goals in 17 games in the competitive Polish League, it is hard to know what else the Cavan man has to do to grab the attention of Martin O’Neill. At 6’5 he offers a heavy, tricky option for Ireland. However despite his size, he is terrific in the air and in addition to his consistent goal scoring has caught the eye with his footwork, link up play and surprising turn of pace. Has experienced the similar demand of international football in the Champions League and is possibly a better option than some of Ireland’s current fringe strikers.

Samir Carruthers (Sheffield United)

After some off the field controversy, former Arsenal and Aston Villa academy prospect Carruthers found refuge at Sheffield United where he is thriving. A former winger, Carruthers is establishing himself as a calm, technically gifted and hungry central midfielder and looked superb against Brentford on the opening day of the season. Capped for Ireland at various levels underage and at only 24 will hope to make the senior grade after a couple of seasons in the wilderness domestically. Would offer Ireland a fresh and skilful option and looks like a player on the rise.

Josh Cullen (Bolton Wanderers-On loan at West Ham United)

It seems it will only be a matter of time before the West Ham academy graduate is a full international. Stood out in League one and Slavan Bilic now wants to test the midfielder in the Championship. Did nothing out of the ordinary against Leeds on Sunday but no doubt has plenty to offer and will hope to catch Martin O’Neill’s eye as he clashes with some of Ireland’s current squad in the coming weeks. Has a similar playing style to West Ham captain Mark Noble and can no doubt emulate his teammate.

Ryan Manning (QPR)

After being unfairly excluded from the QPR first team for a few seasons, Galway man Manning made his breakthrough at Christmas and has not looked back. A player blessed with power, vision and versatility, Manning shone for the Ireland under 21s against Kosovo in May. Took the number 14 shirt at Loftus Road, the same number as Wes Hoolahan and will hope to emulate the Norwich man given his similar attributes. Could stake a claim for involvement next month but is likely to remain with the under 21s.


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.