As born winners, Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane will dig deep to turn around Ireland’s fortunes — which is good news for prospective new talent.
There’s at least 10 months left before the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign takes flight, ample time to cast the net wide and far in pursuit of the strongest possible material to work with.
It’s understood a B international is already being considered for the same week as the friendly against Serbia in Dublin next March. The opposition may even be an Airtricity League select, providing O’Neill and Keane with the added insight into the best gems plying their trade domestically.
In the meantime, there’s phone calls to be made and living-rooms to visit for our new supremos. The pair accepting no for an answer just doesn’t sit right. Here we feature some of the uncapped wannabies born outside of the 26 counties who are available, and possibly ready, to join the odyssey.
Curtis Davies (Hull City)
At 28, the centre-back is at a crossroads and Ireland may be the beneficiary. Tired of being overlooked for England, Davies is assessing his options, with a word in his ear from Hull’s Irish quintet not to be underestimated.
Connor Wickham (Sunderland)
Played under Keane at Ipswich and O’Neill for Sunderland, the tall striker is eligible for Ireland through his grandparents. Scored at the weekend for on-loan club Sheffield Wednesday. Can still switch from England to Ireland.
Callum McManaman (Wigan)
The winger, man of the match in Wigan’s FA Cup final win last May, possesses bundles of quality, albeit still to show his full potential. Still only 22 years old and has Irish ancestry.
Patrick Bamford (Chelsea)
Any striker who bags a dozen goals so far this season is worthy of attention, even at League One level where he’s shone for MK Dons. Ireland U21 manager Noel King has asked Bamford for an answer on whether he’s ready to jump ship from England.
Ryan McLaughlin (Liverpool)
Only recently turned 19, the Belfast-born defender has parked his Northern Ireland career for now. This has heightened speculation of him throwing his lot in with the Republic, despite Pool boss Brendan Rodgers already trying to aid Michael O’Neill’s powers of persuasion.
Rory Donnelly (Swansea City)
Another starlet hothoused through the Northern Ireland FA, Donnelly has played for their U21s after a period of uncertainty. The striker — part of Swansea’s Europa League squad — is not lost to the Republic cause yet.
Liam McAlinden (Wolves)
This one is certainly in the bag. English-born McAlinden told Michael O’Neill no thanks in favour of the Republic. All that awaits for the switch is clearance from Fifa.
Cameron McGeehan (Norwich)
The Londoner’s Norwich colleague, Ireland U19 defender Kyle McFadden, revealed McGeehan might be disposed towards the Republic. Captained the Canaries to the FA Youth Cup last season in the final against Chelsea.
Michael Duffy (Derry City)
One for the long-term, Duffy is the latest wideman to emerge from Derry’s production line. Has represented the North at U19 level.
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