Stephen Kenny is facing up to the prospect of being without seven squad regulars for his summer training camp and friendlies with Andorra and Hungary.
But that should open the door for fresh faces to make an impression with St Mirren’s Jamie McGrath in line for a first call-up when Kenny names his squad next Monday.
Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City) and Kevin Long (Burnley) are definitely out of the equation with long-term injuries, while Robbie Brady (Burnley) is a major doubt due to his ongoing fitness issues.
The participation of Ciarán Clark (Newcastle), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United) and Alan Browne (Preston) is in doubt because of niggling issues that require rest, especially as the off-season was curtailed last year due to the quick turnaround.
The Ireland squad are due to meet in Spain tomorrow week before their friendlies with Andorra in Barcelona (June 3) and Hungary in Budapest (June 8). It will be Kenny’s first prolonged period of time with the group, without the immediate onset of a competitive match, and he needs to use the time productively after a disappointing start to his tenure.
Kenny is well up to speed on what McGrath can offer as he brought the Meathman to Dundalk in 2017. He has starred for St Mirren in his first full season at the club, scoring 17 goals from midfield and collecting player-of-the-season honours.
Another former League of Ireland player hoping for a call is Aaron McEneff, the Hearts midfielder who relocated from Shamrock Rovers in January. He got an emergency call into Kenny’s squad during a Covid crisis in November.
“I know when Ruaidhrí Higgins (ex-Ireland scout) was in the job he was over at one of our games and then he was going to watch Jamie McGrath,” McEneff told the LOI Central podcast. “It was the weekend where we played Alloa and I scored my first goal. I know there’s a training camp coming up, and it’s something I want to be a part of.”