Friday 20 September 2019

Ireland's Alan Browne relishing the chance to take on Paul Pogba and company

Alan Browne during a Republic of Ireland press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Alan Browne during a Republic of Ireland press conference at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Damian Spellman

Alan Browne will rub shoulders with World Cup-bound Paul Pogba and company confident he has what it takes to establish himself as an international footballer.

The 23-year-old Preston midfielder made his first Republic of Ireland start in a 1-0 friendly defeat in Turkey in March, and is hungry for further chances to test himself at the highest level.

His next opportunity to do so could come at the Stade de France on Monday evening when Ireland go head to head with France as the home side prepare for their trip to Russia, and the prospect of pitching himself into battle with the likes of Pogba, N'Golo Kante and Corentin Tolisso is one he is relishing.

Browne said: "It's probably not the biggest game I'd have played in terms of rewards at the end of it considering it's a friendly, but it's certainly the biggest game I'd have played in in terms of quality.

"Everybody knows the quality that the France team possesses and they will be really giving it a go to win it [the World Cup] outright. They will be raring to go, I'd imagine, and it's just a chance for us to stake a claim in the team, and we will give it our all.

"I think people doubt us at times, but I see the quality that the boys here possess every day and I think we're more than capable of taking on any team."

Browne made his debut for his country as a substitute in a 3-1 friendly defeat by Mexico in New Jersey last summer, and has enjoyed a good season at club level since with Preston missing out on the Sky Bet Championship play-offs by just two points.

Ireland boss Martin O'Neill is rebuilding his squad after being denied World Cup qualification by Denmark in November, and the former Cork City player, who scored for a Republic XI in Celtic skipper Scott Brown's testimonial last weekend, is keen to make his mark.

Browne said: "I don't think I've shown what I'm really capable of in the international set-up, but I'm confident of my own ability and I think I can go and show that in the near future.

"I know the other lads will be raring to to do the same given the chance and with the Nations League coming up, it's a real chance for all the boys to really stake a claim for that shirt and make it their own."

The presence of fellow Corkman Roy Keane in the Ireland camp can only benefit Browne and his midfield colleagues with the Liverpool supporter admitting the former Manchester United skipper was a role model despite the rivalry between the clubs.

He said: "As one of the main Irish players growing up, he was someone I looked up to as a kid, even though I supported his enemy.

"He was always giving 100 per cent, and that's something I try to do. If you're having a bad game, the least you can do is give 100 per cent for your team."

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