The third in Pundit Arena’s season-long weekly look at how the Irish contingent are faring in the English leagues.
With all four English divisions in full swing let’s take a look at who is positioned where in the third instalment of Pundit Arena’s Big Green Ladder
1) Darragh Lenihan – Up 2
Another week another clean sheet for Darragh Lenihan and Blackburn Rovers, who must be thinking that this Championship lark is actually quite easy.
Brentford represents a big scalp for Rovers with the London side previously unbeaten and free-scoring in their four games so far this season. Lenihan was good in the air and dealt with Brentford’s attack strongly but was oftentimes caught out with his attempts at playing out from the back.
Nevertheless, it was a clean sheet and a solid performance from Lenihan who’s star continues to rise.
2) Shane Duffy – No Change
The result was not as good this time around for Shane Duffy and his Brighton cohorts but the Derry defender still put in a tremendous display as his side were defeated by a solitary goal against Liverpool at Anfield.
Up against arguably the most potent attack in the whole division, Duffy stood strong and was once again one of Brighton’s stand out players as he almost held Liverpool to a scoreless game.
Duffy continues to be the most important member of a Brighton side that will likely have to battle for their Premier League status this season, but if there’s any man capable of fighting it’s the Irish centre-half.
3) James McClean – Re-entry From Week 1
A week which saw James McClean’s name in the headlines for all the wrong reasons following an alleged bust-up with his Stoke teammates, the Derry man was able to bounce back with a strong performance on Saturday.
McClean was his typical industrious self and looked as though he had a point to prove in the red and white of Stoke. The 29-year old took his first goal for the Potters very well and was unlucky not to score a second but blazed a shot wide.
An excellent display and well-taken goal that McClean and Irish fans hope will be the first of many.
4) Richard Keogh – New Entry
It’s been a tough start to the season from Frank Lampard’s Derby County, but Saturday’s confident victory over Preston North End will come as a timely boost.
At the heart of that strong performance was Richard Keogh who put in a captain’s display in front of the Pride Park faithful.
Keogh was defensively solid throughout and made a number of very important headed clearances as their opponents pressed for a goal that ultimately never came.
The Irish international then headed home the decisive second late in the game to seal an excellent victory and performance.
5) John Egan – Up 3
Another very good week for John Egan who continues to solidify himself at the heart of a Sheffield United side that is growing in confidence game by game.
Egan was rarely tested by a tired looking Bolton attack but was strong when Wanderers did threaten. What was most impressive about this display was Egan’s confidence on the ball. The former Gillingham man never showed fear in taking the ball out from the defence in an attempt to get his side on the front foot.
A first clean sheet will also be a huge boost for Egan.
6) Daryl Murphy- Re-entry From Week 1
Back in the starting lineup for Nottingham Forest this week, Murphy grabbed a crucial equalising goal as his side snatched a late draw at home to Birmingham City on Saturday.
Murphy had been relatively quiet throughout the game although that can probably be put down to the lack of any real service he received, save for the 87th minute where his presence certainly paid dividends.
The 35-year-old was his usual persevering self on Saturday and will be hoping that his late goal can earn him a steady run of games leading the Forest attack.
7) Graham Burke – Down 6
No goal and a defeat for his Preston North End side but credit where credit is due, once again Graham Burke was one of Alex Neill’s most lively players.
Burke was out on the wing again and his pace troubled Derby but he struggled to create as much as he had done against Stoke the week previous and was often wayward with his deliveries.
Another start however for Burke as he looks to build upon his promising first couple of games in a Preston shirt.
8) Jeff Hendrick – Up 2
For the second week in a row, Jeff Hendrick was one of the better players in what was a decidedly poor Burnley performance.
Hendrick looked like one of the few in claret and blue who could make something happen and the ex-Derby County midfielder took his goal very well as he looked to help his side avoid a second defeat on the spin.
Burnley and their Irish contingent have struggled at the start of this season, but O’Neill will certainly be hoping that Hendrick can continue to provide good performances in the Clarets’ midfield.
9) Shane Long – No Change
Back in the starting lineup for Southampton this weekend following his excellent display off the bench the week prior, Shane Long put in another strong performance against Leicester despite his Saints side falling to defeat.
Long failed to get on the scoresheet against the Foxes but was busy as usual winning four aerial duels and three tackles in the opposition’s half as he offered something different alongside Danny Ings.
With striking options few and far between for O’Neill and Ireland it’s crucial that Long continues to deliver good performances when he’s awarded a first team chance.
10) Ryan Manning – Down 3
Another start in the red of Rotherham for Ryan Manning who appears to be becoming an integral part of Paul Warne’s side as they look to stay in the Championship.
Manning was everywhere in Saturday’s game against Millwall, winning the midfield battles and constantly looking to release the ball early.
Rotherham have had a tough start to the Championship season despite playing relatively well in their opening few games but if the Yorkshire outfit can put a string of results together than Manning will unquestionably be an integral part of it.