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Thursday 22 March 2018

10 promising Euro 2016 omissions who could light up Ireland's World Cup qualifying campaign

Jake O'Donnell

After a summer to remember in France, another qualifying campaign will begin all over again against Serbia in just over two weeks.

As Martin O’Neill is picking his first provisional squad of the World Cup Qualifying campaign, there are several Irishmen fighting for his attention as they continue to impress in the football world.

We have picked out some of the best and most promising Irish players that will be hoping to properly establish themselves in the Ireland squad heading into a brand new campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Danny Rogers                                                                                                                                                      

Club: Aberdeen                                                                                                                                                        

Age: 22 years old                                                                                                                                       

Position: Goalkeeper

With Shay Given having retired last month and Rob Elliot remaining on the sidelines with the same injury that ruled him out of Euro 2016, there has never been a better chance for Rogers to get an international call-up. The young Aberdeen goalkeeper is American born but qualifies for Ireland through his Irish mother and has already achieved three appearances for the Irish U21’s. He spent last year on loan at Scottish second division club Falkirik, where he had a breakthrough season, and won a place in the Scottish Championship Team of the Year. He has secured another loan deal to Falkirk this season and will be looking to replicate his feats of last season, in order to be in contention for the senior squad.

John Egan                                                                                                                                                           

Club: Brentford                                                                                                                                                         

Age: 23 years old                                                                                                                                       

Position: Defender

The young Cork man was a member of the League One Team of the Year last season as he impressed with Gillingham. After rejecting a new contract from Gillingham during the summer, Egan signed a three-year deal with Championship side Brentford, who will be pushing for a play-off spot this season. He has four appearances and two goals already for his new club. And with 18 youth caps Egan has a good chance of making an Irish squad during this campaign, if he can establish himself consistently for his new club.

Greg Cunningham                                                                                                                                                        

Club: Preston North End                                                                                                                                                       

Age: 25 years old                                                                                                                                       

Position: Defender

Preston’s Player of the Year last year has four Irish caps from the Trapattoni era, and has been called up to several provisional squads under O’Neill. But with his last cap coming in 2013, Cunningham will be hoping another good season can push O’Neill into giving him a chance on the international stage again.

Matt Doherty                                                                                                                                                         

Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers                                                                                                                                                         

Age: 24 years old                                                                                                                                       

Position: Defender

Another Player of the Year for his club last season, the 24 year-old former Bohemians defender has been capped at U19 and U21 level but never for the senior team. He was included in the senior provisional squad by O’Neill for friendlies against Switzerland and Slovakia in March last year but didn’t make the cut for the final squad. Doherty will again be key at right-back this season for Wolves, as they look to better their 14th place finish in the Championship and push towards the play-offs. Another successful season in the Championship will cement him as a player pushing to be included in every international squad in the future.

Jack Byrne                                                                                                                                                          

Club: Manchester City                                                                                                                                                         

Age: 20 years old                                                                                                                                       

Position: Midfielder

Capped at every Irish underage level, Byrne has been tipped as a future international star for several years now and he is still just 20 years old. Patrick Vieira, former Elite Development Squad manager at Man City, has had high praise for Byrne in the past and compared his style to Roy Keane. Byrne spent last year in the Netherlands on loan at Eredivisie side Cambuur, making 27 league appearances, and another loan deal was secured for this year at Championship club Blackburn Rovers. If he can hold down a place in the team at Blackburn like he did for Cambuur last year, Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane must begin to realise that he is ready for the step up from the U21’s.


Chris Forrester                                                                                                                                                      

Club: Peterborough United                                                                                                                                                       

Age: 23 years old                                                                                                                                       

Position: Midfielder

One of the most technically gifted players to come out of the Airtricity League in recent times, Forrester finally secured his big move across the water to Peterborough United from St. Patrick’s Athletic last August. Forrester has been at Peterborough not even 12 months and last season won the club's Player of the Year award. In addition to that he was also made Peterborough club captain for this season and given a brand new contract. The playmaker turned holding midfielder has been capped at U21 level and his debut in the green jersey cannot be far away.

Harry Arter                                                                                                                                                        

Club: AFC Bournemouth                                                                                                                                                        

Age: 26 years old                                                                                                                                       

Position: Midfielder

A last minute injury during Euro 2016 preparations meant Arter was desperately unlucky not to make O’Neill’s squad for France. Arter has just two Irish caps and was awarded man of the match on his full international debut in the 1-1 draw against the Netherlands in May. An established stalwart in the centre of the Bournemouth midfield, Arter is a sure bet to add to his international caps heading into the World Cup qualifiers.

Callum O’Dowda                                                                                                                                                          

Club: Bristol City                                                                                                                                                         

Age: 21 years old                                                                                                                                       

Position: Winger

After surprisingly appearing in Ireland’s provisional Euro 2016 squad, O’Dowda impressed as he came on as a second half substitute in the 2-1 defeat to Belarus. He made 38 appearances for Oxford United last season as they secured promotion to League One, and his impressive performances secured him a big move to Championship side Bristol City. He has already made two appearances this season for his new club and he will be hoping he can stay in the first team. Just 21 years-old, O’Dowda is highly thought of by O’Neill and is a great prospect for the future.

Alan Judge                                                                                                                                                           

Club: Brentford                                                                                                                                                        

Age: 27 years old                                                                                                                                      

Position: Winger

Judge is arguably the best Irish player outside the Premier League and he finished last season with a personal best 14 goals and 11 assists, which led to him being shortlisted for Championship player of the year and a place in the Team of the Season. A leg break ended his season early and any dreams he had of making the squad for Euro 2016. With Aidan McGeady increasingly out in the cold at Everton, Judge will start to be considered above him in the pecking order, and will be looking to add to his one cap heading into the new campaign.

Adam Rooney                                                                                                                                                          

Club: Aberdeen                                                                                                                                                        

Age: 28 years old                                                                                                                  

Position: Forward

With a record of 45 league goals from 79 appearances for Aberdeen, it is hard to believe that Adam Rooney doesn’t have any senior international caps. Rooney has been capped 9 times at U21 level, and despite being included in Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squads before, he has never got a chance to showcase what he can do on the pitch. With Robbie Keane and Daryl Murphy not getting any younger, Rooney could begin to prove a better option as cover for Shane Long.

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