With the Stephen Kenny era off to a rocky start lets take a look at seven uncapped eligible players for Ireland in the Premier League that could make all the difference.
Kenny will no doubt be looking to help bolster the squad for the crucial playoff game against Slovakia on November eleventh. The injection of some new talent might be the required solution for an expansive playing style Kenny longs for.
1 Caoimhin Kelleher
A regular starter for Kenny’s under 21 side with ten caps to his name, the young cork native could be a potential replacement for Darren Randolph in the future. Kelleher has seen opportunities limited to cup matches as third choice keeper behind Adrian and current number one Alisson. At the age of 21 experience is crucial for the young keeper to grow and develop and a loan move no doubt will be on the cards. Definitely one to keep an eye on in the future.
2 Dara O’Shea
Club: West Brom
Age : 21
It’s been a whirlwind three years for the defender from Dublin who began his career at West Brom in 2017, now becoming a premier league player. O Shea is a versatile defender that can play at both centre and full back. After impressive loan spells at league one sides Exeter and Hereford in 2017/18 saw him recalled to the West Brom team playing in the championship. O Shea soon broke into the first team making 17 starts and helping his side to premier league promotion as league champions. After winning young player of the year for West Brom and already with two premier league starts this season it won’t be long before we see O Shea make his first senior cap.
3 Jimmy Dunne
Another strong performer in the centre back position is Burnley player Jimmy Dunne from Dundalk. Dunne will feel that this could be his year to break into the Burnley senior team after multiple loan moves since joining the club. Dunne has been a globe trotter since 2017 having played in multiple tiers of English football and the Scottish league. The Dundalk man has seen regular game time at all loanee clubs playing over 74 games in two years. Most noticeable at clubs such as Scottish side Hearts and league Ones Sunderland. Dunne will undoubtable be in Sean Diches mind as a regular starter having had a brilliant performance in cup win over Sheffield a few days ago and scoring over the weekend against Leicester City in
the league. The future is bright for Dunne whom will no doubt be getting a call from Kenny in the near future.
4 Will Smallbone
One of the young promising stars in the premier league at the moment, Southampton’s Will Smallbone could be the creative spice in a lacklustre Irish midfield that has been lacking over past years. Although born in the UK Smallbone has Irish ties with family and has represented Ireland through underage levels. Having signed for Southampton in 2019 Smallbone has made an impressive 9 starts and is currently a bench player thus far at the early stage of this season. Southamption manager Ralph Hasenhuttl holds the midfielder in high regard having recently offered the 20 year old a four year contract. If Smallbone continues to improve there’ll be no doubt he could get drafted into the senior squad.
5 Josh Cullen
Club: West Ham
Perhaps one of Irelands and West Hams best overlooked players is Josh Cullen. Although English born Cullen has played his way up through the Irish ranks from underage level and has captained the under 21s. Playing mostly as a central midfielder Cullen has a extremely high work rate and a brilliant wide range of passing. This could make him an ideal candidate for Kenny’s new midfield should he choose to mix things up. Cullen has been at West Ham from an early age but found himself on loan to clubs such as Bradford City, Bolton and Charlton Athletic when opportunities became sparse. The most successful of these loan spells coming at Charlton, making over 63 appearances and helping them to the championship via the playoffs. His impressive loan spell at Charlton in the championship saw him in Mick McCarthy’s Ireland squads however has yet to make a senior cap.
Cullen is currently at West Ham attempting to fight for a place in manager David Moyes plans. Despite some impressive preseason and cup games exciting fans he has so far been left out all league match squads.
6 Conor Coventry
Club: West Ham
Conor Coventry is another English born player that Kenny will have his eye on having been one of the key players in his Irish under 21 midfield. Coventry is primarily a defensive midfielder that likes to sit deep and intercept the ball. Coventry, like Cullen has been unable to get a look in at boyhood club West Ham under Moyes. Last season saw Coventry’s first taste of senior football with a loan move to league one side Lincoln City, making just seven appearances. Currently at West Ham trying to break into the senior team , it appears as though a return to the league one may be on the cards for the youngster as the premier league side seem more keen to buy players then develop the youth.
7 Patrick Bamford
Club : Leeds
Age : 27
Patrick Bamford has been a player that has been linked with Ireland on multiple occasions due to his Irish Heritage. Having not lined out in a green shirt since his under age days the boat may have well and truly sailed on his desire to play for Ireland. However, he did consider the option when Mick McCarthy came calling almost a year ago. Now having progressed with Leeds from the championship to the premier league he is a pivotal part of their starting eleven. He is a proven goal scorer having scored 25 goals in the championship in the last two seasons and already gotten off the mark with two goals in the premier league. Mostly playing as a lone striker that can hold up the ball bringing others into play with a high work rate, there’s no doubt he could fit into the Ireland team in their 4-3-3 formation.