Graham Burke could see first international start against the USA
Shamrock Rovers forward Graham Burke could be in line for his first international start against the USA on Saturday.
A training ground injury to Southampton forward Shane Long could see Burke start his first game for Ireland after he made his international debut in Monday's 2-0 friendly defeat to France in Paris.
Shane Long is out of the USA game tomorrow with a knee injury. Jeff Hendrick is available.
— emmet malone (@emmetmalone) June 1, 2018
Shane Long is not training with the Republic of Ireland squad today because of a knee problem. If he doesn't make it, that leaves Martin O'Neill with only two fit strikers, Jon Walters and Graham Burke.
— Damian Spellman (@DamianSpellman) June 1, 2018
Shane Long is not training today because of a knee injury. It may open the door for Graham Burke to start tomorrow.
— Neil O'Riordan (@noriordan) June 1, 2018
Burke's second-half cameo against France meant that he was the first League of Ireland-based player to represent the national team at senior level since Cork City midfielder Joe Gamble's debut against Ecuador back in 2007.
Burke will not feature in Rovers' match with League of Ireland Premier Division leaders Dundalk on Friday night, and while he noted this week that he wants to be involved with his club's games, his focus at this stage is training well with Ireland.
“I knew yesterday that I wasn’t going to play in the game,” Burke said on Thursday. “I don’t know if that’s anything to do with Saturday, Martin [O'Neill] hasn’t said anything to me.
"I’m just focusing on training and being here with the team. That’s all I really know about it.”
He added: “I needed to play the games for Rovers so the situation was that I was going to play the Sligo game, go to Celtic, then come back and play Bohs. In the meantime, I was going to be in with the Ireland set-up, but it was fine.
“Obviously, we’re still in season so I need to play the games for my club. To get the opportunity to do this is just about balancing the two and I think it has worked out well.”
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley hailed Burke's debut against France as a 'fantastic achievement' for the player and predicted that the 24-year-old will improve as he progresses to a higher level.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for him and it’s great for the club and the league that you have a player that comes on in the Stade de France on Monday and is an Ireland international.
“The higher the level Graham plays at the better he’ll be because of the type of player he is. He has the ability to play at the highest level and I think he showed that this week that he didn’t look out of place. He has the ability to look really comfortable in and out of possession in those scenarios.
“It does mean he’ll miss our game on Friday. You’re obviously gutted to be missing him for a big game for us but he’s worked so hard. He’s produced for us and now he’s getting his just rewards for playing for Ireland. He’s playing for his country so it’s something that we fully support and would never try and change it.”