The Republic of Ireland continue their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign next month. The Boys in Green opened their account with a draw away to Serbia, and now have games against Georgia and Moldova on the horizon. Although six points are essential, they are not a given.
Martin O’Neill has a relatively settled side, but competition for squad places is high. Here, we look at five players who could be in with a shout of their first call-up.
After two successful seasons with Gillingham, the Corkonian earned a move to Championship outfit Brentford, where he has thrived so far. Having scored a brace against Ipswich Town earlier in the season, he has settled in quickly as the Bees are in sixth position.
Martin O’Neill attended their 5-0 win over Preston on Saturday, and surely liked what he saw from Egan.
Pundit Arena caught up with the club’s CEO Mark Devlin, and he feels it’s only a matter of time before Egan gets an international call-up.
It would be a really positive move for the League of Ireland if O’Neill were to call on Horgan. The Dundalk star being picked on merit of his impressive European showings, rather than just another inclusion of a home-grown star to play lip-service to the league, would be a huge boost.
Training with the squad would bring Horgan’s game on to the next level.
He has terrorised defences that are at a higher standard than those of Georgia and Moldova, so an international call-up would be a fantastic development.
‘Shane Long’s on fire’ has been ringing around stands at Ireland games, but the fact of the matter is that Long has not scored since last season.
Anybody who has been to Turner’s Cross this year, or indeed tuned into the League of Ireland in any small way, will know that the lyrics heard in the Shed, ‘Maguire’s on fire’, are far more apt. He has banged in 11 goals in his last eight games.
Two goals for Ireland’s U21s during the last international window show that he is capable of taking the step up. Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane also saw him find the net last Friday night in Cork against Shamrock Rovers.
Joint top scorer in the Championship with six goals, Hogan is an in-form striker, and is doing it at a very decent level in England. He banged in a hat-trick in front of O’Neill last weekend, and is raring to take his game to the next level.
With a target of 30 goals or more this season, it is clear that Hogan is brimming with ambition and confidence.
Surely O’Neill can’t ignore this kind of form?
O’Connell has had his struggles with injury, but is forcing his way into Brendan Rodgers’ plans at Celtic. He came on late against Barcelona in the Champions League thrashing, and there was little that he could do at that stage.
However, his strong frame and hunger to win the ball has won many plaudits in recent weeks. He is growing in confidence, and although Celtic are struggling at the back, he is making progress.
Ireland need a fresh presence in defence for the medium and long term, and O’Connell could be the answer.
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