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26th May 2024

Ireland trio will play Premier League football next season as Southampton seal promotion

Ronan Calvert

Southampton win promotion

Three Ireland internationals will play in England’s top flight next season

Gavin Bazunu, Will Smallbone and Ryan Manning will all play in the Premier League next season after Southampton won today’s play-off final against Leeds United.

Southampton took the lead in the 24th minute through Adam Armstrong who scored his 24th goal of the 2023/24 season.

Leeds wideman Dan James came close late on as a shot crashed against Alex McCarthy’s post but with over 100 minutes on the clock, a final blow of referee John Brooks’ whistle eventually confirmed the Saints’ dreams and Leeds’ nightmares.

The season has been no cakewalk for Southampton.

Panic ensued back in September when they lost four out of the month’s five matches, including a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Sunderland.

It was around that period when manager Russell Martin faced a fans forum to explain his vision for the club and defend his persistence with Ireland goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.

“We don’t have a problem with the goalkeeper,” Martin responded when asked about recruitment in the goalkeeping department.

“We have a full international who is 21 years old and will take some unbelievable learning from playing in the team that finished bottom of the Premier League last season.

“That’s not easy for a goalkeeper, especially a young goalkeeper.

“I’ve been made aware of this narrative around Gav. Last season has happened, you can’t impact that.

“If I was looking to sign a goalkeeper, I would want to go and sign Gavin Bazunu for the way that we play.”


As referred to by Martin, Bazunu endured a difficult debut season in the Premier League as Saints finished rock bottom.

Now, however, he, along with Smallbone and Manning, has a great chance to prove himself in England’s famous top division.

Smallbone was a key player in today’s success as he assisted Armstrong’s all-important winner, while Manning came on in the 83rd minute for Samuel Edozie.

If there ever is a new Ireland manager, he’ll certainly be pleased by today’s developments. The more Irish players playing in Europe’s top leagues the better.

Ireland players promoted to the Premier League: Gavin Bazunu, Will Smallbone, Ryan Manning (all Southampton), Kasey McAteer, Tom Cannon (both Leicester), Jack Taylor, Marcus Harness (both Ipswich Town)

Ireland players relegated to the Championship: Josh Cullen, Dara O’Shea, Michael Obafemi, Luke McNally (all Burnley), Sam Curtis (Sheffield United), Chiedozie Ogbene (Luton Town)

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