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19th Jun 2024

John Egan optimistic about Ireland future as he returns from nightmare injury

Simon Kelly

John Egan

“There’s a lot to be optimistic about for the future of Irish football.”

Injury, relegation and managerial merry-go-rounds are just a few of the issues John Egan faced last season.

The Irish international has been through the ringer but admits he is solely focused on getting back onto the pitch for next season, despite still having “no update” on his future at Sheffield.

From a psychological standpoint, the 31-year-old has experienced a number of big blows, ones that could put a dent in ever making it back to the top of his game.

“That’s a lot of what people don’t see,” the Cork man tells the media as an ambassador of Pringles. “When you’re out for a long time mentally you have to be strong.”

“I could draw an experience from when I was 20 and I broke my leg so I’ve been been down this road before.”

When Egan faced an operation on his foot back in October, he knew what was ahead.

“Mentally there’s a lot of things you have to do really but one of the biggest things is being patient and trust and giving your body enough time to take every box along the way.

Injuries aren’t something the player paid too much attention to before his big one, but his perspective has been altered now.

“My role off the pitch this year has been big because I’ve been trying to be a positive influence around the place and see a different side of the game when you’re in the physio room for that long.”

Injury aside, on an international front, things hadn’t faired much better while Egan sat on the sidelines.

With Stephen Kenny vacating the job, the FAI has constantly made the headlines for the wrong reasons.

John O’Shea is still dangling half in, half out the door, there are no further updates on a permanent manager and World Cup qualifiers ominously loom – it’s fair to say Egan is returning to a lot of uncertainty.

However, watching the ongoing Euros has given the Ireland captain the view that there is still a lot to be excited about.

“I think we’ve shown even though we haven’t qualified [for Euro 2024], we’ve had some big performances against some big nations over the last few years.

“We’ve come out on the wrong end of some really tight games as well so we have a very good squad in my opinion.

“A lot of the players came into international football really young and played a lot of games for their club and for Ireland and with that comes experience and improvement.

“I think there’s a lot to be optimistic about for the future of Irish football.”

image: Sportsfile

Despite not being involved in the camps since O’Shea stepped into the role of head coach, Egan is adamant he only hears good things coming from his fellow Irish players.

“I think John has done really well coming in in that situation. The feedback I’m getting is that it has been really good.

“We have a lot of young players and when John O’Shea walks into a room he commands instant respect with the career he has had.

“I have worked with John before as a coach before he took over the manager’s job, he’s got a wealth of experience and you can tell that the lads really enjoying playing under him.

“Obviously the players will put on the jersey no matter what and give 100 per cent, so there’s no point in thinking too much about things you can’t control.

“Nothing really surprises you in football, there is change all the time. As a player with experience, you just learn to focus on what you can control. That’s all you can do really.”

Egan’s optimism will put him in good stead for the months ahead, with the player looking to cement his future soon and get back on the pitch after almost a year out.

From speaking to the Cork man, it’s clear to see he’s got a lot left to offer.

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