Thursday 17 October 2019

Here is how Ireland may be lining out in four years' time

Shane Duffy, Troy Parrott and Jayson Molumby
Shane Duffy, Troy Parrott and Jayson Molumby
Neil Farrugia. Photo: Ben McShane/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Is this how Ireland will look in four years?

Mark Travers: Current incumbent Darren Randolph will be closer to 40 than 30 in four years' time; not that age ever prevented Shay Given prolonging his sting between the stints but depth is minimal - for now.

Caoimhin Kelleher, already a Champions League medal winner, and Gavin Bazunu, of league champions Manchester City, may seem best placed. But Travers, who has already played a league game, may have a better chance of strengthening his claim, especially if he picks up a summer move which will render him more likely to become a first-choice at a club.

Matt Doherty

While a contemporary debate still rages about his inability to force himself into Mick McCarthy's side, it is more likely than not that he will have superseded Seamus Coleman's challenge by this stage and, while he can slot into a number of positions, he could be tasked to pin down the right-back role. Lee O'Connor is one to watch.

Shane Duffy

Now entering his peak years, at 27, Duffy is Ireland's outstanding central defender, capable of making an impact in both boxes and his ability to play out from the back is an option which will make him attractive to Kenny. Given his renown in the club game, even if his club were to get relegated, a more likely prospect than not, he would be a prime target for those remaining in the higher tier of English football. Conor Masterson and Ryan Nolan, if his Irish future is confirmed, will challenge.

Dara O'Shea

A graduate of Tom Mohan's excellent U19 side, the former St Kevin's Boys' defender has benefited from a loan spell at Exeter City from parent club West Bromwich Albion; had to fight for his place but then secured it with some doughty displays. There are other emerging contenders, and John Egan of the current crop is capable of maintaining his graph of improvement.

James Furlong

Will Robbie Brady still be trying to convince that he has the discipline and composure to prolong what has been, aside from a few notable high-points, a fitful international career? If so, his future may probably reside at left-back, but many observers are excited about the potential of Furlong, who has enjoyed a rapid ascent since his debut as a 16-year-old for Shamrock Rovers, and demonstrated his undoubted class in the European Championships earlier this year. He has already been chased by a number of Premier League sides.

Callum O'Dowda

A player bursting with ability and potential from the current crop but for a variety of reasons, predominantly injury-enforced, has been unable to consistently press his claims in the Irish side. Capable of operating in most positions in the midfield, or even as a quasi-number ten, O'Dowda's pace and trickery, as well as delivery, are valuable assets. Needs to sort out his club situation as next career move will be crucial.

Conor Hourihane

A graduate from the school of hard knocks, Bandon's finest will finally appear in the Premier League with Aston Villa and could be primed to take his career on to the next level. Has already made an impression with Ireland, following that stunning free-kick against Georgia. Gibraltar game demonstrates that his left-foot remains a radar but his range of passing, especially of the short, incisive variety, will need to improve. Flexibility is key as he can play as an advanced or retreated midfielder.

Jayson Molumby

There are a host of contenders to join Hourihane in the engine room - including Connor Ronan, Conor Coventry, Aaron Bolger, Ryan Johanssen and the recent history of Irish midfielders, boundless stories of arrested development or unfulfilled potential - proves that advancement is never an open and shut case, notwithstanding progress with club sides. The dynamic Waterford midfielder has overcome torrid knee injuries and must now hope to impress an incoming Brighton manager of his worth. A determined leader who suits Kenny's high-tempo approach.

Neil Farrugia

The Paris-born winger has spurned invitations from Malta - he is also eligible for France and Spain - and would have featured in the recent Toulon invitational tournament were it not for an untimely hamstring injury. He has already trialled with Manchester City but is determined to complete his final year in UCD. Farrugia has searing pace, a pronounced work ethic and one of those often modern rarities - a winger who can beat a defender on the outside with either speed or subtlety.

Troy Parrott

Here's where it gets difficult. Ireland have been searching for a natural goal-scorer since the days of Robbie Keane and, albeit there have been notable cameos from the selfless Shane Long and Jon Walters, few have proven capable of a sustained productive run. Spurs prospect seems a live one although the tentative nature of his club's interaction with the Irish set-up, compounded by injury, have introduced a fraught, hopefully temporary, hiatus in his development. Highly thought of by Mauricio Pochettino - how highly may be revealed after this summer's transfer dealings.

Michael Obafemi

Rangy Adam Idah - both a hold-up man and a finisher - is another striker on the radar, so too the exciting Bohs' sensation, Danny Mandriou. Aaron Connolly has progressed well until now while Ryan Cassidy is another who knows the route to goal. However, Obafemi is an obvious choice given that he is already a senior international and will surely return to the senior squad when he regains his fitness. Only concern is a series of hamstring issues at such a tender age.

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