With both the senior and under-21 Ireland sides in action this week, one man who’d have been expected to feature for at least one of those is midfielder Jack Byrne.
The 21-year-old’s career seemed on a sharp upward trajectory in recent years with many tipping him for a place in the World Cup squad at one stage, but a series of frustrating moves (both on loan and permanently) have left the Dubliner stuck in career limbo somewhat.
Now on loan at Oldham Athletic in League One, Byrne gave Ireland under-21 manager Noel King another timely reminder of his ability with a well-struck goal in the 1-0 Checkatrade Trophy win at Crewe Alexandra on Tuesday night, following up on his brilliant debut effort against Charlton in September.
Picking the ball up outside of the box, the Dubliner took a took a touch before unleashing a fine strike to the near post that gave Crewe goalkeeper Dave Richards little chance of keeping it out.
As it turned out, Byrne’s strike proved to be the only goal of the game, giving Oldham all three points in the group stage fixture.
Given how highly he has been rated, this loan spell could finally give the former Manchester City man the lift and stability that his career has badly needed. Fortunately for Byrne, time is well on his side and he should have more than one eye on the next Ireland under-21 squad.