Five Republic of Ireland players who could do with a transfer in the January window
Five Irish players who could do with a transfer in the January window.
Despite the positivity surrounding the Republic of Ireland team after a promising end to 2021, the picture at club level for Irish players at the elite level isn't quite as rosy.
Stephen Kenny has been forced to cast his net wider for players than any of his predecessors, and this will continue to be the trend for the foreseeable future. Irish players will also have to be creative and look beyond the English top-flight for opportunities.
Just 12 Irish players have made appearances in the Premier League so far this season. For context, five years ago, (the 2016/17 season) 19 Irish players made an appearance in the Premier League. While 10 years ago, (the 2011/12 season), 37 Irish footballers featured in the division.
With the January transfer window now open, here are five Irish footballers who would benefit from a transfer in January, with just one Irish player in contention to make a move to the English top-flight. However, there could still be some potentially interesting transfers involving Irish players.
Five Irish players who could do with a transfer in the January window.
Matt Doherty - Tottenham.
Doherty was one of the best attacking wing-backs in the Premier League between 2018 and 2020. In 75 Premier League games for Wolverhampton Wanderers, Doherty scored eight goals and registered 11 assists. His excellent form earned him a move to Tottenham. But his time at White Hart Lane has been disappointing and looks unlikely to improve.
In 21 top-flight matches for Spurs, the Dubliner has recorded just two assists. Doherty has yet to start a Premier League game under new Tottenham coach Antonio Conte, despite the Italian's wing-back system seemingly suiting his skillset.
🚨 𝐍𝐄𝐖: Matt Doherty will be allowed to leave Spurs this January — whilst the club are also open to offers for Steven Bergwijn, Dele Alli and Joe Rodon. [Evening Standard]
— The Spurs Web (@thespursweb) January 4, 2022
Conte is reportedly targeting a new right wing-back in the window, which suggests he doesn't see a place for the Irishman in his team. Doherty will be 30 by the time the January transfer window closes and needs to get his club career going again after a difficult spell in north London.
Doherty's best position is as a wing-back, rather than at full-back, and as such, there aren't many viable options for him in the Premier League. A return to Wolves could be perfect for him, even if he would have to battle Nelson Semedo for a starting spot.
He has also been linked with a move to Roma, who are coached by Jose Mourinho, the manager who signed him for Spurs. Doherty, however, lost his place under Mourinho last season, so a reunion appears unlikely.
Possible destinations: Wolves, Roma.
Adam Idah - Norwich.
Idah has made 48 appearances for Norwich in the Premier League, the Championship, the FA Cup and the EFL Cup and has scored just six times (three of those goals were in a hat-trick against Preston in the FA Cup two years ago).
At some point, Idah will have to be judged on his output, rather than his potential, and that time appears to be approaching. Norwich looked certain to be relegated from the Premier League and Idah is evidently not ready to lead the line for a top-flight club.
The 20-year-old needs a consistent run of games and to start finding the net, as cameo appearances off the bench for a struggling Norwich team won't aid his development. The Cork-native, who has impressed for Ireland with his selfless performances, could do with a transfer to a Championship club or even a League One side.
Possible destinations: A League One team chasing promotion, such as Portsmouth, Sheffield Wednesday or Oxford United.
Jeff Hendrick - Newcastle.
Hendrick has been a regular for Ireland under Stephen Kenny but has barely played at club level this season. The midfielder has made only three appearances for Newcastle United in the Premier League during the current campaign. He has only started one Premier League game this season and just twice since March. Hendrick has played only 10 minutes for the Magpies since Eddie Howe was appointed manager.
Given that Newcastle have the richest owners in world football, and need to upgrade their squad to avoid relegation, he looks unlikely to be given more opportunities in the second half of the season. The Dubliner, who turns 30 later this month, has two years left on his contract at St James Park, so a loan move may be a better fit for January.
Hendrick spent four seasons with Burnley and a return to Turf Moor may suit him at this stage of his career. The Clarets are also operating with a small squad and could do with reinforcements in midfield. Newcastle, however, are unlikely to sanction a transfer to a relegation rival, so a move to a Championship team may be more feasible for Hendrick if he is to leave St James Park.
Possible destinations: Burnley, Stoke City, Middlesbrough.
John Egan - Sheffield United.
Stephen Kenny said last year that Egan is good enough to play in the Champions League. That may have been a well-meaning exaggeration by the Ireland manager, but there is no doubt that Egan is good enough to play in the Premier League.
The central defender impressed in the top-flight across two seasons for Sheffield United and has played 22 times for the Blades in the Championship this season. Egan doesn't appear to be in a rush to leave the Yorkshire side, but he could do a solid job for a lower-half of the Premier League team.
Burnley, in particular, could be a good fit, especially if the club sell James Tarkowski during the January transfer window. Egan spent two seasons with Brentford between 2016 and 2018 and would be a valuable addition to Thomas Frank's side as they seek to remain in the Premier League.
Everton, meanwhile, have been hit hard by injuries are operating on a shoestring transfer budget after years of squandering money in the market. Egan could be a useful option for Rafa Benitez's side.
Possible destinations: Burnley, Brentford, Everton.
Jamie McGrath - St Mirren.
McGrath has taken the longer route to international football, but he has established himself as a regular member of Kenny's Ireland squad. The Meath-native has earned six caps for the Boys in Green and set up John Egan's goal against Portugal back in September.
McGrath's club career is also on an upward trajectory. The 25-year-old signed for St Mirren from Dundalk in 2019 and has become the Scottish side's talisman.
The attacking midfielder has scored 17 goals and registered seven assists in 73 games for St Mirren.
With his contract due to expire at the end of the current season, McGrath looks set to be on the move.
Aberdeen are reportedly leading the race to sign him. McGrath also almost joined Hibernian last summer. He would be a low-risk, potentially high reward, signing for almost any Scottish Premiership side, or even a Championship side.
McGrath's international experience, and European experience with Dundalk, suggests that the midfielder is capable of excelling at a higher level.
Possible destinations: Aberdeen, Hibernian.