Brentford’s John Egan and Reading’s Liam Kelly are the two new names in Martin O’Neill’s 39-man squad for Ireland’s upcoming internationals with Wales and Iceland later this month.
O’Neill has called up the former Ireland U-21 duo after the pair impressed over the winter break with Egan starting 32 games for Dean Smith’s Brentford this season, while Kelly has made 20 appearances for Jaap Stam’s Reading.
The Ireland squad will report into camp ahead of the FAI’s International Football Awards on Sunday 19 March, but first, here is some brief background information on the Boys In Green’s latest recruits.
Born – 20/10/1992
Position – Centre-back
Background - Egan started his football career with Greenwood FC in Togher, Cork, and is the son of former Kerry Gaelic footballer John Egan. His mother, Mary Egan, has a League of Ireland winners medal with Cork Rangers and also played underage football with Kerry.
After spending two years in Sunderland’s underage setup, the Corkonian bounced around the Championship enduring loan spells with Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Bradford City before eventually settling at Peter Taylor’s Gillingham where he scored an impressive 10 goals in 81 games for The Gills.
Comments - “I watched him a lot when he was at Sunderland and when he went out on loan. He is a proper centre back and has a hunger to keep the ball out of the net. He is a good defender and a good footballer as well. He is also a leader and we want to keep adding leaders to the squad,” - Dean Smith, Brentford manager.
Competition In Ireland camp - Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce (Derby County), Paul McShane (Reading), Andy Boyle (Preston North End), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United).
Born – 22/11/1995
Position – Attacking Midfielder
Background – Kelly has been with Reading since he was eight-years-old and was promoted into The Royals first-team this season after impressing with Bath City in the National League South last year. The 21-year-old has been a mainstay in Jaap Stam’s side over the last three months after breaking into the Reading starting XI against Leeds in December.
Comments – “Liam is a quality player. We’ve seen him throughout the whole season. He is a player who has great skills, he’s very comfortable on the ball and can go past players as well. His passing, his technique is world class - I can say that,” - Jaap Stam [H/T – GetReading].
Competition In Ireland camp – Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady (Burnley), Darron Gibson (Sunderland), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Eunan O'Kane (Leeds United), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City).