Will Keane and Ryan Johansson set to become Ireland recruits

Will Keane has become the first of what Mick McCarthy hopes is a steady stream of Ireland recruits under his reign.

Will Keane and Ryan Johansson set to become Ireland recruits

Will Keane has become the first of what Mick McCarthy hopes is a steady stream of Ireland recruits under his reign.

The Hull City striker, currently on loan at Ipswich Town, has requested the FAI formally lodge an application with Fifa to switch allegiance from England.

That process could take a couple of months, thereby making his availability unlikely for the opening pair of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia on March 23 and 27, but he should come into the reckoning for the May training camp in Portugal and the trip to Denmark on June 7.

McCarthy, who replaced the sacked Martin O’Neill in November, has commenced talks with another forward, Leeds United’s Patrick Bamford, about coming aboard. There also remains an outside chance of Southampton attacker Nathan Redmond jumping ship from England.

For Ireland to improve upon last year’s meagre return of four goals in nine matches, addressing their striker shortage is McCarthy’s priority.

The return of Seán Maguire to the Preston North End team constitutes a plus in that context but Shane Long is his only available striker operating on a regular basis at a Premier League club. Scott Hogan’s exclusion from the Aston Villa match-day squad of late hasn’t helped either.

Daryl Murphy is considering a plea by McCarthy to postpone his retirement from international football, yet the new boss requires options.

The enlistment of Keane at the ripe age of 26 is certain to spark another debate on dual-eligible players as, like Callum Robinson; he represented England all the way up to U21 level.

Although his twin brother Michael chose to initially declare for Ireland at underage level through his Dublin-born father Aidan, Will was resolute in committing to England. Back then as Manchester United trainees, Will was considered the more likely to carve out a top-level career.

All was on track when he made his Premier League debut for United in December 2011 until a ligament problem suffered the following summer marked the start of an injury-plagued couple of years. His second serious knee rupture while playing for Hull in November 2016 ruled him out for over a year.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich’s Ryan Johansson may line out for Stephen Kenny’s U21s at the Toulon Tournament in June.

The midfielder, 17, has opted to make an early decision on his allegiance, overlooking his homeland of Luxembourg and Sweden in favour of a future with Ireland.

Highly-rated at the Bundesliga champions, evidenced by his graduation to the first-team last summer for friendly appearances against Juventus, PSG, and Manchester City, Johansson had sampled international game-time with all three nations.

A phonecall to Ireland U19 manager Tom Mohan over the weekend brought this particular tug-of-war to an end. Johansson spent several summers in Mullingar, where his grandparents were born, and his mother Christine has confirmed that Ryan’s “heart” was with Ireland.

His participation for Luxembourg in the Euro U19s qualifiers earlier this season debars him for being part of Ireland’s squad in the elite qualifiers in March but he could, depending on the Fifa international clearance and progress with Bayern, be promoted by Kenny to the U21s for their tournament in France.

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