Burnley’s Browne gets call as O’Neill bolsters midfield cover

Former Cork City player Alan Browne has been added to the latest Republic of Ireland squad.

It’s a first senior call-up for the 22-year-old Preston North End midfielder, although in March of last year he was invited to train with the panel by Martin O’Neill. However, injury prevented the then U21 international from taking up the invitation.

Browne’s call-up is for the three upcoming internationals, the friendlies against Mexico in New Jersey and Uruguay in Dublin, and the World Cup qualifier against Austria which takes place at the Aviva Stadium on June 11.

Today, the Irish squad assembles in Fota Island for three days of training before, after a short break, they fly to the United States next Monday. O’Neill has already indicated that the squad for the training camp in Cork and the game against Mexico in New Jersey will be largely, though not necessarily exclusively, confined to Championship players before, once back in Dublin, preparations intensify in the build-up to the big game against Austria at the Aviva.

Browne’s call-up comes at the end of a club season during which he made 35 appearances in all competitions for Preston as they secured a top-half finish in the Championship for a second consecutive year. He joins his North End team-mates Daryl Horgan, Andy Boyle and Aiden McGeady in the Irish squad.

Speaking recently about his form with Preston, Browne said: “On a personal basis I think I’ve improved again, which I was looking to do, and I’m happy with the game time that I’ve got. As a team, we were good for a period but I feel like we could have done a lot better and maybe should have. We may have ended up a lot higher, but it just wasn’t to be.”

Browne will provide additional midfield cover for Ireland in the absence of James McCarthy and David Meyler. Although the FAI have yet to officially confirm that McCarthy is ruled out because of his hamstring problems, Everton boss Ronald Koeman claimed at the weekend that the player and Martin O’Neill had already agreed that he will miss Ireland’s summer games.

“In my opinion that is a really good decision,” said Koeman, “because he needs to recover and get ready for pre-season.”

With Shane Long, Ciaran Clark, and Seamus Coleman also ruled out, O’Neill will have been pleased to learn that Harry Arter is expected to be fit for the game against Austria, despite a knock having forced him to sit out Bournemouth’s final game of the Premier League season on Sunday, a 1-1 draw away to Leicester City.


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