Irish soccer not cultivating talent for a bright future?

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After years of underachievement, the Republic of Ireland could have optimism for a bright future with the number of up-and-coming players that are beginning to develop both at the international level and in the Premier League. Since reaching the round of 16 at Euro 2016, when Ireland was narrowly edged out by France after taking the lead, there has not been a lot to shout about for Eire supporters.

Ireland endured a talent drain after their run to the Euros in 2016 and have struggled in their bid to reach major finals, missing out on a place in the World Cup for the fifth tournament in a row. Ireland will have to watch England and Wales compete at Qatar 2022, where the Three Lions are backed as one of the leading contenders for the crown at 8/1, according to the odds at

Declan Rice’s exploits will rub salt into the wound after he opted to turn his back on the Republic of Ireland after earning three caps to don the England colours. Rice’s decision highlighted the fact that Ireland was struggling to cultivate talented players. However, Stephen Kenny’s men do have cause for hope with the next generation of talent beginning to emerge. It starts at the back with the impressive Gavin Bazunu between the posts, who has made 10 appearances in his fledgling international career to date.

Bazunu came through the ranks at Shamrock Rovers before moving to Manchester City. After impressive loan spells at Rochdale and Portsmouth, Southampton took the plunge to sign the keeper for £10m, explaining here on their reasons for backing the youngster. At the age of 20, Bazunu is their number one keeper and looks to be Ireland’s long-term solution, bringing back memories of Shay Given’s tenure between the posts. Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher will ensure that Bazunu cannot rest on his laurels, although given that he is behind Alisson at Anfield, Kenny may opt to keep the starting role for the Saints stopper for now.

Both players are still young and need time to mature, but the experience of playing in the Premier League and in the case of Kelleher, opportunities in the Champions League, will prepare them for the rigours of international football.

Nathan Collins’ rise has been impressive at the back after earning a £20m move to Wolves from Burnley. The 21-year-old has now had three clubs in the past three years, but the age of 21 is now a regular for the Midlands outfit in the top flight. Wolves had so much confidence in their new signing they allowed Conor Coady to move to Everton. Young defenders can be raw, but Collins has the chance to learn and develop at Molineux. He seems to be the perfect candidate to be the future captain of the Republic of Ireland.

  • The striking ranks too have promised with Troy Parrott and Michael Obafemi flashing their potential in Ireland’s 3-0 win over Scotland in the Nations League as described by There is still plenty of work for both players to do, although Obafemi was impressive for Swansea in the Championship in the 2021/22 season. Parrott is continuing his development at the same level at Preston North End this term on loan from Spurs. Both players are in the early stages of their careers, but their progress is certainly worth watching ahead of qualifying for Euro 2024.

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