Home Football English Football Preston And Burnley Could Now Field A Seriously Strong ‘Combined Irish’ XI

Preston And Burnley Could Now Field A Seriously Strong ‘Combined Irish’ XI

With the imminent signing of Jon Walters, Burnley are set to take their Irish international contingent to five later this week.

The forward joins compatriots Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Kevin Long and Stephen Ward at Turf Moor, as Sean Dyche goes about building the most Irish side in the Premier League.

One division below them, and on a similar mission it would seem, are Preston North End. The Lilywhites will be adding Cork City duo Sean Maguire and Kevin O’Connor to their ranks later this month, and despite losing Aiden McGeady this summer they still have the likes of Daryl Horgan to call upon to ensure that the Irish flag is still waving.

At this point, the two clubs are just about able to field a combined Irish eleven between them, and a pretty strong one at that.

 

Goalkeeper:

Alan Kelly (Preston (Goalkeeping Coach))

INPHO/Billy Stickland

Admittedly, starting off with a 48-year-old goalkeeper isn’t ideal, but until one of the two clubs signs an Irish goalkeeper, Kelly will have to do a job in this team. Kelly picked up 34 caps for Ireland across a nine-year spell, and made 142 appearances for Preston before rejoining them in 2013 as their goalkeeping coach, a role he also had as part of the Irish backroom staff before the appointment of Martin O’Neill.

 

Defenders:

Greg Cunningham (Preston)

February 25th 2017, Preston, Lancashire, England; Skybet Championship football, Preston North End versus Queens Park Rangers; Preston North End's Greg Cunningham kicks the ball clear  (Photo by Tim Williams/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Kevin Long (Burnley)

Republic of Ireland Squad Training, FAI National Training Centre, Dublin 9/6/2017 Kevin Long
INPHO/Tommy Dickson

 

Andy Boyle (Preston)

Three International Friendly, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 28/3/2017 Republic of Ireland vs Iceland Ireland's Andy Boyle
INPHO/Ryan Byrne

 

Stephen Ward (Burnley)

April 15th 2017, Liverpool, Merseyside, England; EPL Premier league football , Everton versus Burnley; Stephen Ward of Burnley on the ball  (Photo by Alan Martin/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Having a right-back on the left isn’t particularly ideal either, but Greg Cunningham has played there before (granted it hasn’t gone well for him) and can do so again. The centre of defence is that bit more settled with recently capped Irish internationals Andy Boyle and Kevin Long taking the spots.

Stephen Ward on the left, meanwhile, has improved dramatically in the past year or so – though would do well to look over his shoulder at Kevin O’Connor behind him, both in this hypothetical situation and in real life.

Midfielders:

Daryl Horgan (Preston)

Jeff Hendrick (Burnley)

Burnley's Irish midfielder Jeff Hendrick celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Bournemouth at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on December 10, 2016. / AFP / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.  /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Alan Browne (Preston)

February 25th 2017, Preston, Lancashire, England; Skybet Championship football, Preston North End versus Queens Park Rangers; Preston North End's Alan Browne kicks the ball clear  (Photo by Tim Williams/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Robbie Brady (Burnley)

BURNLEY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12: Robbie Brady of Burnley during the Premier League match between Burnley and Chelsea at Turf Moor on February 12, 2017 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

In Daryl Horgan and Robbie Brady, Preston and Burnley between them possess two bright young wingers with big futures in the game. One is already an established member of Ireland’s starting lineup and the other is well on his way to joining him.

In the centre, meanwhile, Jeff Hendrick has bags of talent but needs to rediscover his pre-Euro 2016 form, while Alan Browne has just broken into the international setup after a strong season at Deepdale.

Forwards:

Jonathan Walters (Burnley)

2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 11/6/2017 Ireland vs Austria Ireland's Jonathan Walters celebrates scorin
INPHO/James Crombie

 

Sean Maguire (Preston)

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Turner's Cross, Cork 28/4/2017 Cork City vs Bray Wanderers Cork's Sean Maguire
INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Sean Maguire and Jonathan Walters haven’t joined their new clubs yet but Irish fans are already excited to see how the new season plays out for these two. Many would already like to see this as Ireland’s first choice striker partnership and while Martin O’Neill had been wholly reluctant to consider calling Maguire up to the Ireland squad while he has been at Cork City, his move to the Championship should finally earn him a place in that squad.

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On this week’s edition of the Mixer Irish Football Podcast we dissected Bray Wanderers’ perilous financial situation with Cormac Byrne of the Irish Mirror, and caught up with Bohemians’ Keith Ward to discuss both his and his team’s fine league form.

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