International football is these days resembling a transfer market and this time Martin O’Neill is nursing the bloody nose.
The FAI have benefited from northern players defecting but English-born talent can do likewise.
Here’s three players to ditch Ireland for their homeland and two more potential departures.
Jack Grealish (played for Ireland, defected to England)
O’Neill, while still defending his stance yesterday, messed up by failing to promote the Aston Villa player into the seniors for the 2014 trip to America and it was downhill from there.
By the time the Derryman tabled the invite in August, Grealish was a permanent part of the Villa’s squad and England were sniffing around — again. A year of self-imposed international exile followed, interrupted midstream by the winger collecting the FAI U21 Player of the Year award, before the Brummie confirmed his switch.
He has since represented England’s U21s and should step up the seniors once his Premier League return is confirmed, be it next season at Villa or another club.
Michael Keane (played for Ireland, defected to England)
Whereas O’Neill nowadays get asked about Hull City striker Will Keane’s call-up prospects, it was his twin brother Michael who started out his international career with Ireland.
Having declared through his Dublin-born father, Michael played at U17 and U19 level but fell out with Paul Doolin and jumped ship.
The centre-back graduated to the ranks into the senior squad.
Marcus McGuane (played for Ireland, defected to England)
Ireland and Arsenal have lost out on the talented midfielder, now 19, and holding the title of England’s first player at Barcelona since Gary Lineker 40 years ago.
Marcus Tabi, as he was known then, first played for Ireland at the 2014 U17 European Championship finals yet didn’t appear again, instead accepting an invitation from the English camp, much to the annoyance of U19 boss Tom Mohan.
Josh Cullen (has played for both England and Ireland)
There’s no indication that the current Ireland U21 captain, a team-mate of Rice’s at West Ham, will return to his homeland of England but that could change were he to make an impact at club level.
He’s struggled for game-time since making his Premier League debut at Anfield two years ago, spending time on loan at Bolton Wanderers, but Hammers boss Manuel Pellegrini recently rebuffed an offer of another temporary stint elsewhere.
Connor Ronan (has played for England and Ireland)
Wolves paid big money to land the winger from Rochdale four years ago and they’ve handled their investment with kid gloves, using Ronan in the League Cup last season.
Kevin De Bruyne was certainly impressed, approaching him to swap shirts following the game against Manchester City.
They then allowed him join Portsmouth on loan for the rest of the season.
This could be a slow burner for the 20-year-old as he can only defect to the England senior squad having been capped competitively by Ireland’s U21s. Should his progress continue, England will be back in the mix.