Tuesday 22 October 2019

Shock call for Byrne as injury rules O'Dowda out of qualifiers

Jack Byrne of Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Jack Byrne of Shamrock Rovers. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne has been drafted into the Ireland squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers with Gibraltar and Georgia after impressing Mick McCarthy in Friday's win over Sligo Rovers.

It's a boost for the Dubliner who returned home over the winter in an attempt to rebuild his career following a testing period.

He was tipped for big things in his youth when he was snapped up by Manchester City and then starred in Holland on a loan spell with Eredivisie side Cambuur.

But he left City after a deflating loan spell with Blackburn and moved on to Wigan, Oldham and then Kilmarnock in a topsy-turvy 18 months.

The 22-year-old has impressed since joining Rovers and scored a stunning goal on Friday in front of McCarthy and his assistants Terry Connor and Robbie Keane.

Keane has watched Rovers three times this year and gave McCarthy a positive review of Byrne based on his own experience - the confident playmaker trained with the senior team in March 2016 and spoke of his ambitions of breaking into the Euros squad.

"Jack was the star of the show in Tallaght," said McCarthy. "He was the best player by a distance in a good team performance by Rovers and his goal was the icing on the cake.

"I was impressed with his vision, his range of passing and his passion. Robbie has trained with Jack with the senior team before and speaks highly of him so I wasn't surprised by his contribution."

He was speaking before negative results from a knee scan ruled out Bristol City's Callum O'Dowda.

Byrne's namesake Pat was the last League of Ireland player to be capped in a competitive fixture - in November 1985.

McCarthy originally named a 38-man panel for his opening matches with a view to whittling it down.

However, he had already looked outside the provisional panel to bring Charlton loanee Josh Cullen into his final 23-man list after he impressed on a scouting trip that was built around watching Portsmouth's Ronan Curtis.

Cullen and Byrne will train with the squad this morning ahead of Thursday's trip to Gibraltar.

Keiren Westwood, Richard Keogh and Conor Hourihane have been given permission to join up late.

Newly-crowned Senior Player of the Year Shane Duffy missed last night's ceremony after Brighton's FA Cup win over Millwall went extra time and then penalties before Chris Hughton's team triumphed.

Irish Independent

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