Marcus Harness: Who is Ireland’s latest recruit?

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The Portsmouth man watched as Ireland drew with Bulgaria on Wednesday.

Many Ireland fans may not be familiar with the name Marcus Harness. That could change in the coming months as the 24-year-old looks set to establish himself as a valuable member of the Irish camp.

Despite not making the matchday squad, Harness watched from the sidelines as his compatriots played out a scoreless draw against Bulgaria on Wednesday. Circumstances prior to the match prevented him from making the squad, but there’s a possibility that he may be involved in the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

He declared his intention to play for the Republic in July of 2019, but this international break marked his first involvement in the squad, likely due to paperwork. His declaration came shortly after joining Portsmouth.

He joined Portsmouth from Burton Albion, the club where he honed his craft as he came through their youth academy before transitioning into the first team. It wasn’t a straightforward passage through by any means, though. After initially breaking into the first team in 2014, he gradually faded out of the manager’s plans which led to a succession of loans in various divisions.

It was the 2017-18 season when Harness truly established himself as a first team regular while on loan at League Two side Port Vale. He played in 35 league games as Port Vale narrowly avoided the drop by finishing 20th.

He clearly impressed the Burton Albion manager – at the time – Nigel Clough as he became a valuable squad member for his parent club during the 2018-19 season. That season he made 32 league appearances and added goals to his game as he scored 5 times.

On July 18th, 2019, Harness linked up with fellow Irish international Ronan Curtis as he swapped the yellow of Burton for the blue of Portsmouth. He made an impact during his first season as he made 27 league appearances and chipped in with 11 goal contributions.

While he impressed during the 2019-20 campaign, he has really stepped up a level this season. The winger has put in some scintillating displays for Pompey as they sit 6th in the League One table. So far, he has scored 5 and assisted 4 in just 11 league appearances.

With Ireland seriously lacking attacking options at the minute, his inclusion in the senior set up is a welcome one. The versatility of Harness is also an added bonus as he can play on either wing or as a number 10.

Stephen Kenny may be left with no choice but to include Harness in his forthcoming World Cup qualifying squad, especially if he maintains his spectacular form. Ireland fans will be hoping he can contribute as Stephen Kenny tries to gather that elusive first international win.

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