Martin O’Neill has unveiled his provisional Ireland squad for the upcoming friendlies against Celtic, France and the United States.
With his options limited (for the first clash especially) due to the number of players still involved in action with their clubs, O’Neill has drafted a number of new and returning faces into the massive 40-man panel for the series of matches.
The big news is that Shamrock Rovers striker Graham Burke has been called up. League of Ireland players receiving international call-ups is something of a rarity, but the former Aston Villa man has been on fire this year and gets the nod up front along with fellow new recruit Callum Robinson of Preston.
Millwall’s Shaun Williams and Peterborough United goalkeeper Conor O’Malley, formerly of St. Patrick’s Athletic, are also included for the first time.
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Colin Doyle (Bradford City), Kieran O’Hara (Manchester United), Ian Lawlor (Doncaster Rovers), Conor O’Malley (Peterborough United)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Alex Pearce, Richard Keogh (Derby County), John Egan (Brentford), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Kevin Long (Burnley), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Greg Cunningham (Preston North End)
Midfielders: Alan Judge (Brentford), Conor Hourihane, Glenn Whelan (Aston Villa), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds United), David Meyler (Hull City), Shaun Williams (Millwall), Alan Browne, Daryl Horgan (Preston North End), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion),
Forwards: Jonathan Walters (Burnley), Shane Long (Southampton), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall), Sean Maguire, Callum Robinson (Preston North End), Graham Burke (Shamrock Rovers)
There is a welcome return to the squad for Burnley forward Jon Walters after a long injury lay-off, while O’Neill confirmed that John O’Shea will lead the side out for the final time against the USA before retiring from international football.
Expect that squad to be cut down significantly, especially after the Celtic match when every player above will be available.
An ‘Ireland XI’ will face the Bhoys in Scott Brown’s testimonial at Parkhead on May 20th, before the Boys in Green travel to Paris to face France at the Stade de France on May 28th, the scene of their Euro 2016 draw against Sweden. Finally, O’Neill’s side face the US at the Aviva on June 2nd.