Four fresh faces Kenny could turn to ahead of Euro 2024 campaign
Assessing the alternative options ahead of the visit of the French.
Anticipation is building amongst Irish football fans ahead of the Ireland's maiden Euro 2024 qualifying campaign fixture. The Boys in Green start their journey with a match against a star-studded France side at the Aviva Stadium.
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny is set to name his squad this week for the visit of the World Cup finalists, which will be preceded by a friendly clash against Latvia on March 22nd.
Having failed to qualify for a major tournament on both attempts during the Kenny reign, there is hope that a promising finish to Ireland's UEFA Nations League campaign can stand them in good stead as they seek to reach the German-hosted tournament.
A worry for Kenny though will be the lack of action at club level for a number of key players, such as Wolves' Nathan Collins and Atlético Madrid's Matt Doherty.
With the recent declarations of on-loan Celtic winger Mikey Johnston and Blackburn midfielder Sammie Szmodics, we take a look at other alternative options available to Kenny as he looks to add to his squad ahead of a crucial qualifying campaign.
The potential additions to Stephen Kenny's Euro 2024 Ireland squad.
The former Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers full-back has seen plenty of game time in the Championship in recent months under the tutelage of former Ireland manager Mick McCarthy at Blackpool.
Making eight league appearances for the Tangerines following his debut in a 4-1 FA Cup win over Premier League side Nottingham Forest, the versatile full-back has found his footing as Blackpool look to stave off relegation.
Two-footed and comfortable on either side of defence, Lyons' adaptability could be a decisive factor in earning a first senior call-up for the Boys in Green.
Given the dearth of options at left back, and concerns over Matt Doherty's match sharpness on the right, the 22-year-old could be a surprise inclusion.
On loan at promotion-chasing League One side Plymouth Argyle from Aston Villa, the 22-year-old midfielder has lit up the English third tier this season.
In scoring seven goals and recording an impressive eight assists so far this campaign, Azaz has shown his ability to adapt to the rigours of senior football. It's this form which also saw him make his Irish under-21 debut last September in the Euro 2023 play-off defeat to Israel.
With Ireland perennially lacking in midfield creativity since the international retirement of Wes Hoolahan, perhaps Kenny will opt for the London-born midfielder as an option to provide chances for in-form Evan Ferguson.
One of the League of Ireland's standout players, Farrugia has been a bright spark in what has been a difficult start to the season for defending champions Shamrock Rovers.
The former UCD winger possesses supreme athleticism, with his rampaging runs down Rover's right flank a familiar sight to watchers of Irish domestic football. The Tallaght side's recent European run should also dispel any concerns over Farrugia's ability to perform at a higher standard of football.
Already named as a standby for last November's international double-header against Norway and Malta, Kenny is clearly an admirer of the 23-year-old as he looks to add to his lacking wide options.
Another former League of Ireland player, the ex-Drogheda United and St. Pats centre half signed for Championship leaders Burnley from League One side Oxford United last summer.
The Meath man signed for Championship side Coventry City on loan in January, after finding first-team minutes limited. McNally made just two substitute appearances under Vincent Kompany at Turf Moor.
Yet, since moving to the play-off contenders, McNally has made eight consecutive starts, recording five clean sheets in the process.
Despite centre half being one of Ireland's more competitive positions, the lack of game for other options such as Fulham's Shane Duffy could leave the door ajar for McNally.
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- Mikey Johnston’s move to Ireland receives FIFA international clearance
- In-form Blackburn player Sam Szmodics in line for Ireland call-up as move gets all-clear