If something has become evidential in Irish football in recent years, it’s that the depth in the player pool has become thread bare.
Various ‘Granny Rule’ players are often linked with Ireland to mixed reaction following the antics of two certain England internationals.
The reality is that if Ireland want to compete, they need as many options as physically possible. Morocco reached a World Cup semi-final with 88% of their squad not born in or raised outside the country.
Stephen Kenny’s side are not in a position to limit their resources and it’s also worth noting that just because a player declares, does not guarantee them selection. Ireland do have a plethora of young talent coming through but there is no reason that the FAI can’t maximise the potential for a much bigger pool to pick from and increase competition for places which is lacking.
Many moons ago, Jermaine Pennant declared for Ireland while playing in the Premier League with Stoke only to be overlooked. Will Keane declared several years ago and had to bide his time while many will forget that fan favourites such as Josh Cullen, Callum Robinson (both England), Shane Duffy and James McClean (both Northern Ireland) all represented other countries before commiting to Ireland.
We look at seven players ago could strengthen the quality of Ireland’s player pool and provide Stephen Kenny with some exciting options an heading into 2023.
Jake Clarke-Salter (QPR)
Having signalled his Irish eligibility in the summer after joining QPR from Chelsea, Jake Clarke-Salter has impressed since coming back from injury. Plays in a position that Ireland are well stocked in at centre-back but it’s worth noting that the 25 year old is left-footed and could offer a more expansive style of play to Stephen Kenny if he was to deploy the former England under-21 captain in the left of a back three.
Jack McGlynn (Philadelphia Union)
Having been tracked by the FAI and watched by Keith Andrews in the MLS final, it remains to be seen just how hard Ireland are pushing for the 19 year old midfielder who has incredible passing ability. The USA have produced some technically excellent midfielders in recent years, comfortably surpassing the Irish production line and McGlynn could provide a different dynamic.
Dublin born 20 year old left-back Denis Cirkin operates in one of Ireland’s problem positions and is enjoying an excellent season with Sunderland. Having featured for England at underage level and eligible Latvia, it remains to be seen if the former Spurs man would want to represent the country if his birth. In recent times, he has been linked with Brentford and a switch back to Spurs.
Jobe Bellingham (Birmingham City)
A wonder kid just like big brother Jude, Jobe Bellingham is making great strides with Birmingham City. Seems too good to slip through the grip of England but the 17 year old could be worth sounding out given the fact he can become an absolute superstar should his positive development continue.
Liam Delap (Man City-on loan at Stoke)
Finally finding his grove at senior club level, Rory Delap’s young lad Liam could add some enhanced quality to an airways talented young striker pool for Stephen Kenny. At 19, Delap still has plenty of time to decide his international future and given that dad Rory won 11 caps for Ireland, he may want to follow in his footsteps.
Mikey Johnstone (Celtic-on Liam with Guimarães)
Ireland don’t exactly have a clatter of wide-men and Mikey Johnstone has been long rumoured for a switch to a country he has a strong affiliation with. A tricky winger currently on loan at Guimarães in Portugal from Celtic, the 23 year old would certainly offer a creative option and plenty of flair in the Ireland squad.
Nathan Redmond (Besiktas)
Despite what many May think, Nathan Redmond who was raised by an Irish mother, still qualifies for Ireland having yet to make a competitive appearance for England. Could definitely offer something to Ireland having found a new lease of life in Turkey with Besiktas but Jamaica are also said to be interested in the 28 year old. Maybe not one for the long term but would certainly add quality for at least another two or three campaigns.