Wednesday 25 April 2018

O'Kane called up by Ireland

Eunan O'Kane has won a first senior call-up for the Republic of Ireland
Eunan O'Kane has won a first senior call-up for the Republic of Ireland

Bournemouth midfielder Eunan O'Kane has earned a first senior call-up for the Republic of Ireland for next month's Euro 2016 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia.

The 25-year-old was one of three uncapped players - Brentford's Alan Judge and Adam Rooney of Aberdeen are the others - included when manager Martin O'Neill announced a provisional squad of 37 on Tuesday afternoon.

O'Kane's club-mate Harry Arter, who made his debut in the friendly draw with England in June, is included despite missing the first two games of the Cherries' campaign as he recovers from hip and groin injuries.

O'Neill said: "These are two very important games in our qualifying campaign and we are looking forward to them.

"The players are all now back in action with their respective clubs and will be ready for these games.

"We will be training at the new FAI National Training Centre in preparation for the trip to Faro to take on Gibraltar and the home game against Georgia at Aviva Stadium.

"The facilities are very impressive and we look forward to making this our training base for all future international camps."

Sheffield Wednesday's Keiren Westwood is one of five goalkeepers named in the provisional party along with David Forde, Shay Given, Darren Randolph and Rob Elliot, with O'Neill confident he will be fit after bruising a kidney during Saturday's 2-1 Sky Bet Championship defeat by Ipswich.

There is a place too for Sunderland defender John O'Shea, who will hope to win his 105th and 106th international caps despite not yet kicking a ball in anger for his club so far this season.

The two games, while on paper perhaps the least taxing of the Republic's Group D campaign, are crucial if they are to maintain any hope of qualifying for next summer's finals in France.

The 1-1 draw with Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in June represented a significant blow to their chances of claiming even a play-off berth, and they can afford no slip-ups if they are to remain in the mix.

O'Neill's men currently sit in fourth place in the group on nine points, two behind the Scots in third with Germany on 13 and leaders Poland on 14.

Ireland won 2-1 in Georgia, thanks to an Aiden McGeady double, and beat Gibraltar 7-0 in Dublin at the start of the campaign in September last year, and they need maximum points once again to send them into their final two games in October - at home to Germany and in Poland - with their dreams still intact.

Squad: David Forde (Millwall), Shay Given (Stoke), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph ( West Ham), Rob Elliot (Newcastle), Richard Keogh (Derby), Marc Wilson (Stoke), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Derby), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce (Derby), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Paul McShane (Reading), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Greg Cunningham (Preston), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Eunan O'Kane (Bournemouth), Aiden McGeady (Everton), James McClean (West Brom), Alan Judge (Brentford), Robbie Brady (Norwich), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff), Stephen Quinn (Reading), David Meyler (Hull), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich), Jon Walters (Stoke), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), Anthony Stokes (Celtic), David McGoldrick (Ipswich), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen), Simon Cox (Reading).

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport