Video: Martin O'Neill names Ireland squad - Check out new boy Callum O'Dowda in action
Published 12/05/2016 | 11:49
Oxford midfielder Callum O'Dowda has been drafted into Martin O'Neill's 35-man Ireland squad to face Holland on May 27.
And there is good news for Everton's Darron Gibson as he will be given the chance to impress in the Boys In Green's final preparations before Euro 2016. Ireland will play Holland at the Aviva Stadium and Belarus in Turner's Cross before jetting off to France.
O'Dowda qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather Darby, who is a famous Irish tenor from Dundalk. He made his Ireland Under-21 debut in a 1-0 win against Andorra last March.
Everton full-back Seamus Coleman has been included in the squad despite being sidelined since the middle of last month by a hamstring problem.
There is also a place for 35-year-old skipper Robbie Keane, who has returned to action for club side LA Galaxy after undergoing knee surgery, and a first senior call-up for Oxford midfielder Callum O'Dowda.
Shay Given, Marc Wilson, Jeff Hendrick, Harry Arter, Jonathan Walters and David McGoldrick, who all missed the March friendlies against Switzerland and Slovakia through injury, are also included for the game at the Aviva Stadium on May 27.
O'Neill will finalise his squad the day after the Holland game ahead of a training camp at Fota Island, Cork, which will include a second friendly against Belarus, with the party due to head out to France on June 8.
"I went down to watch the U21 game against Italy and I thought he (Callum O'Dowda) did very well in the match, he followed it up with an excellent performance in the Paint Trophy final for Oxford," said O'Neill.
" I like him, I think he's got ability. Can he play higher? Absolutely. Just like the way I brought in young Jack Byrne it would be nice for him to come in and get a feel for the place so if and when he's ready to go, he won't be intimidated by anything."
Squad: Shay Given (Stoke), Darren Randolph (West Ham), David Forde (Millwall), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Derby), Paul McShane (Reading), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Richard Keogh (Derby), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce (Bristol City), Shane Duffy (Blackburn), Marc Wilson (Stoke), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Aiden McGeady (Sheffield Wednesday), James McClean (West Brom), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby), David Meyler (Hull), Stephen Quinn (Reading), Darron Gibson (Everton), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Eunan O'Kane (Bournemouth), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff), Robbie Brady (Norwich), Jonathan Walters (Stoke), Jonathan Hayes (Aberdeen), Callum O'Dowda (Oxford), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), David McGoldrick (Ipswich), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich)
Check out O'Dowda in action here:
O'NEILL ON INJURIES...
"I think it is a concern a few players haven't played that much. I know Wilson, who has been an integral part of proceedings, hasn't played for some considerable time but I think he feels he might get fit.
"I think he's going to go and see a specialist on Friday and, while he'll not play again for Stoke, we'll have a little look at it. There are a number of players - maybe not as far down the line as that - Hendrick hasn't played for a while and he's just getting back and was sub the other day and played in an U21 game.
"It is a concern, you'd like the players to be playing as often as possible. A couple of players like Seamus, having a hamstring problem, hopefully that will clear in time. Some of these things are almost inevitable."
O'NEILL ON SCOTT HOGAN...
"He's done very well, Roy was very impressed with him too. We have a number of players who, at this minute, would be in front of him. He definitely looks very, very good and it might have been a bit too early for this one. He's certainly in mind. I thought about bringing him in but I left it at this minute. He's done very well."
O'NEILL ON THE FINAL SQUAD...
"There's a fairly decent chance i would name the squad after the Dutch game. The Belarus game gives you an hour or two afterwards if that's the case. I would rather leave it to the last possible moment and disappoint one or two as opposed to disappointing them early and bringing them back in.
O'NEILL ON SHAY GIVEN...
"Shay is back in full training now. Again I'd be doubtful if he would participate in a game for Stoke, we'll have a look at that and see."
O'NEILL ON ROY KEANE AND CELTIC...
"I wouldn't know that. Anything can happen between now and the start of next season. Who can say? I've said before that Roy would want to go in and manage in his own right, make the decisions, which is important, he's been used to making them throughout his life as player, captain and manager.
"I think this has been very good for him. Would he want to manage on his own again? Absolutely. If an opportunity comes up, a really good opportunity, I would wish him all the best.
"I think Celtic is one of the great clubs in the world and I'd have to say that Keane was one of the great players so that's not a bad fit for a start.
"Could he do the job? I'd have no problems with that. Would he be capable? Absolutely but as Roy said you still have to be asked and so far I'm not sure that's the case. I don't think he would give things up lightly. Something would have to..I think his phrase is...is rock his boat. He's enjoyed it here and it's been good for him but is he ready to go? Yeah he could be."