According to the excellent website: https://irish-abroad.appspot.com/CompetitionDetails, there are currently thirty-eight Republic of Ireland players associated with English Premier League football clubs.
With the English Premier League set to resume on June 17th, Hawkeye Sidekick looks ahead and identifies a number of Republic of Ireland players who could make a positive impact for their clubs as the end of the season run kicks into gear.
The anticipated arrival back to West Ham United has seen precious little EPL game minutes for the current Republic of Ireland first choice goalkeeper. With the club in a precarious league position, does David Moyes look to Randolph to provide the assurance and stability which at times has eluded the likes of David Martin and Lukasz Fabianski this season? Randolph may well get this chance to rescue the club from top flight relegation.
A goalkeeper’s life is based on massive highs and lows. Mark Travers in his relatively short professional club career has seen both spectrums. The Maynooth native has broken into the AFC Bournemouth first team squad but is currently battling it out with Artur Boruc for the second goalkeeping spot as Aaron Ramsdale has been the preferred option of Eddie Howe so far this season. AFC Bournemouth management is facing a massive call on the goalkeeping front. Ramsdale has had inconsistent moments this season and coupled with a recent Covid-19 positive result, does his enforced isolation open the door for Mark Travers to stake a serious claim for the first choice goalkeeper position. Eddie Howe has to be brave on the goalkeeping position as his defensive unit have struggled for leadership and organization in goal at critical points of this league campaign. Travers may well play a pivotal role in the Cherries battle to avoid the drop.
This is a critical period for Seamus Coleman as he looks to secure game minutes for Everton in this end of season run-in. Marco Silva looked to other full back options last season and Ancelotti has also experimented with his formation asking the Donegal native to sit in a back three or five man midfield. The experienced player needs to start this league resumption with sharp performances, otherwise the management team at the club may look for other options come the off-season.
The Wolverhampton Wanderers player’s progression continues this season. His form prior to the pandemic was standout and serious questions were about to be asked of Mick McCarthy on how he could leave the Dublin native out of the national side? The conundrum of Doherty and Coleman in the same national side will be an interesting one for Stephen Kenny to figure out in the coming months. For now, Doherty will continue to grow and develop with Wolves who looked prime for a good tilt at a top four position. Doherty with his late runs into the box and delivery to his striking options will mean that the Swords native will be a popular choice on FPL teams when the season resumes.
A player who has impressed me no end in his debut EPL season. The Sheffield United momentum from last season has continued and John Egan has been the fulcrum of the side. His dominant performance in the heart of the Blades defense earning him plaudits from his club manager Chris Wilder and also recognition from Mick McCarthy. A player whose passing from the back will be a key attribute for Stephen Kenny’s national team ethos, Egan looks primed for more standout performances and perhaps interest from other EPL clubs in the off-season. Egan’s mobility and leadership traits make him a standout for club and country.
A difficult time for Shane Duffy with the recent passing of his father. The Derry native will hope to get back into the first team reckoning under the management of Graham Potter who has expressed reservation on Duffy’s ability to implement his passing game plan from the back. Duffy’s strengths are his dominance in the air; a real threat in the attacking set piece. Duffy must be brought back into the first team to rescue Brighton & Hove as the club look quite vulnerable defensively without the services of the big defender. Potter needs to make the right call here, otherwise the club and his managerial reign at the club in the top flight will be at an end.
This is do or die time for Aston Villa. Conor Hourihane looks to me to be a key cog in their survival hopes. His box to box midfield style of play, excellent set piece delivery and long range shooting are key strengths of the Cork native. Dean Smith has looked at other midfield central options this season but the side look better when Hourihane is on the park. It is a key period for Hourihane to impress. If he can impress here, Aston Villa could stave off top flight relegation yet.
Some Republic of Ireland supporters have a very much love / hate relationship with the player but for me when James McCarthy is fully fit and in form, the player is as good a central midfielder anywhere. With Crystal Palace pretty much out of relegation trouble, McCarthy could be afforded more game time against the top teams to impress. A good opportunity for McCarthy to impress Stephen Kenny ahead of crunch qualification playoffs at the end of the calendar year. McCarthy to me is still a key squad player for the national side and his vast club experience is a massive positive for the national team as well. I am looking forward to seeing how the player fares in this end of regular season push.
The Tipperary native was rewarded for his team ethic and professionalism with a two year contract extension at Southampton this week. Hasenhuttl sees the merits of the player; his hard work, his ability to put defenders under pressure with or without the ball. The goals to games ratio will always be something that fans and pundits will throw at the player but Long is a player who opponents despise; he does not give you a seconds peace. Danny Ings is the main striker at the club but Long has shown his versatility with standout performances this season before the pandemic. Similar performances should be seen by Stephen Kenny and perhaps a recall to the Republic of Ireland squad. A player who should be in the squad in my opinion; he adds pace and experience to the ranks.
The Young Guns
I am hoping that other young emerging Irish talent will get game minutes but it looks remote. Aaron Connolly will get game minutes for Brighton & Hove Albion as the side struggle for goals. A player who is admired by Graham Potter, the Galway native needs to take his chance when given it. The player has returned to full fitness so let’s watch this space.
Adam Idah is a player with a massive future but I do not see the Cork native getting sufficient game minutes with Norwich City in the midst of a relegation battle as well as Teemu Pukki being the main striker at the club for the EPL fixtures.
Troy Parrott. The great hope from many Irish sporting media outlets. I am not sure what to say on this player. Potential aplenty but does he need to look for a loan move away from White Hart Lane? Mourinho’s comments on the player in recent months are striking; the manager sees the potential but also sees a player who needs to develop and grow as a player and a person.
Burnley and Sheffield United clubs will be of enormous interest. Robbie Brady hopefully keeps fit and starts to deliver consistent performances on the pitch. Jeff Hendrick is in contract limbo; club speculation and AC Milan link is an interesting side note. Can Hendrick finish the season strong with some good performances showing his box to box ability and chipping in with a couple of goals and assists?
The Blades have had strong Irish representation this season. Enda Stephens has been a consistent full back standout for the club. His distribution and delivery out wide a real bonus for the team. David McGoldrick has been a workhorse for the side. The goals have been sporadic but Wilder will be the first to acknowledge his contribution to the side.
Newcastle United, a club on the brink of a Saudi-Arabian takeover will be an interesting place in the coming weeks. Ciaran Clark has been for me one of their players of the season. He has shown versatility in filling defensive positions and central defensive midfield. Another player who Stephen Kenny must run the rule over.
As you can see, a big EPL end of season awaits for the Republic of Ireland playing contingent. Roll on June 17th!