John Egan emerged from his first senior cap battered and bruised yet determined to play a part in the rest of Ireland’s World Cup qualification campaign.
From what was an uneventful night against Iceland, the 24-year-old had been immersed in most of the talking points, including the elbow he shipped inside the opening stages and the free-kick he conceded which led to the only goal of the friendly.
He also picked up a booking for his troubles.
“When I was caught with the elbow, it was a bit of ‘Welcome to international football’,” admitted the Brentford man about the early present by Kjartan Henry Finnbogason.
“I think I did alright but probably could have done better. I’ve played with a lot of centre-halves in my time so personally it was good to come in and play with Alex Pearce with the first time.”
Martin O’Neill, his former boss at Sunderland, has two more friendlies lined up against Mexico and Uruguay in the first week of June before the competitive action resumes on June 11 with Austria to visit Lansdowne Road.
“I found international football different, a lot more technical,” admitted the 24-year-old.
“I just found out I was playing when we got to the stadium and the boss named the team. He just said go out and play your own game but I knew that anyway, it’s a simple game and I tried to do my best.
“Now I’ve got to keep trying to impress with my club to try get into future squads.”
Fellow Leesider Conor Hourihane was also making his belated debut, revealing a natural bout of nervousness kicked in from the outset.
“For my first cap, I was a bit nervous going out there but I thought I did okay,” said the Aston Villa midfielder.
“It was nice to get the first one under the belt, hopefully I get called upon again. I thought we passed the ball around quite well even though we didn’t create a lot of chances. They didn’t create much and neither did we, at least until Daryl Horgan came on.”
Hourihane admitted there were mistakes made in trying to defend the free-kick which looped over his head and into the bottom corner.
“I think the wall was all wrong,” he confessed. “Inside in the dressing room, there was a bit of a debate going on, players in whatever position or whatever.
“It was a disappointing goal and result all-round. You dream of playing in your first game and winning three and four-nil and all that kind of stuff and it being a fairytale. However, it wasn’t really to be and sometimes it goes that way.”
Meanwhile, Cyrus Christie has revealed Seamus Coleman personally gave him his blessing to fill his right-back position during a hospital visit on Monday.
“Seamus was in good spirits yesterday when I saw him in hospital,” said the Derby man.
“He has his family around him, his daughter was there, and they’re keeping him happy and going.
“He’s a great character and has a great mentality. Seamus just wants to get on the road to recovery.
“As I was leaving, he told me there was no better man to fill his boots and that was great to hear from him.
“That sums the kind of guy he is up. For me that’s a great compliment and it gives me a great amount of confidence because I look up to him.”
He added: “Whether it happened to our leader or not, an injury like that is a shock to the system and it’s not nice to see.
“It did rattle the squad and it puts a lot of things into perspective. It was a tough thing to take and the last thing you want to have to concentrate on his playing games. We had to get on preparing for the Iceland game.”
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