Sunday 18 August 2019

Breen - Egan good enough to handle Premier pace

John Egan of Republic of Ireland during the Friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Republic of Ireland U21's at the FAI National Training Centre in Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
John Egan of Republic of Ireland during the Friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Republic of Ireland U21's at the FAI National Training Centre in Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Gary Breen has warned Sheffield United's Irish contingent that they face a sharp learning curve as they prepare for their Premier League return.

And the former Irish centre-half, who grew up in awe of Kingdom great John Egan during boyhood holidays with his Kerry father, is hoping that John Egan junior, in particular, can pass his defensive test with flying colours.

Egan will line up in a defence that also features Irish left-back Enda Stevens, while strikers David McGoldrick and Callum Robinson will be tasked with scoring the goals.

"Every time John has stepped up he looks comfortable," says Breen, capped 63 times for Ireland. "So now you're wondering can he do it again.

"The only concern is not will he have the football ability to do it, but will he be able to cope with the movement of world-class strikers. He'll have never seen that before.

"I remember Matt Doherty said after the first game of last season that it was like a whirlwind and he couldn't cope with how fast it all was.

"But look how quickly he settled. And I hope that the lads at Sheffield United do the same. Listen, they're fighting above their weight, but they'll know their jobs and I hope they do well.

"John's dad was my hero growing up, I looked up to that great Kerry team. That's why I'm so desperate for the Dubs not to do five in a row.

"I've seen him play a lot. He got that broken leg initially and then he was at Gillingham, rebuilds his career, ends up in the League One team of the year and then gets the move to Brentford.

"So every time there has been a challenge laid down to him, he has been able to respond.

"Enda Stevens has some experience of the Premier League since his time with Villa and the fact that he has played so much international football should help him make the step up."

Irish Independent

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