Football | 2 months ago
Three young Irish players that need to be thrown in sooner rather than later
Last throw of the dice

Look at the Ireland bench for the Serbia game. Who else from that selection could we have thrown on to save the day?

Conor Hourihane, Daryl Murphy and Callum O'Dowda all came on when Ireland were trailing 1-0. Martin O'Neill was unlikely to take off a defender unless they were injured so the other attacking options were Daryl Horgan, Johnny Hayes and Harry Arter.

Preston, two starts for Celtic and Bournemouth. This is where we are.

Or are we? Are there other young, fearless talents that O'Neill can call on for the final two games of a World Cup qualifying campaign? We believe so.

With must-win games against Moldova and Wales coming up, here are three young players that can make that crucial difference.

Ryan Manning

The Galway native has been in and out of the QPR team this year but has bedded down in the first team squad and is impressing with Ireland U21. Manning scored twice for Noel King's side against Azerbaijan on Tuesday and reports from the game were that he was the stand-out performer.

The 21-year-old has formed good partnership with QPR and Ireland U21 teammates Olamide Shodipo and Reece Grego-Cox, with King has raved about his contribution to the team. A player with a cool head on the ball and someone who commits defenders, Manning would be worth bringing into the wider training squad. Would not hold back against the Moldovans.

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Sean Maguire

The former Cork City forward has scored a rake of goals, in the Airtricity League and in Europe, over the past two years and deservedly made the move to England, and Preston, in the summer.

Preston boss Simon Grayson, who signed Maguire, moved on to Sunderland soon after but Alex Neil has given him a good look in the Championship club's opening few games. The 23-year-old has been man-of-the-match in two games and has already received a couple of standing ovations when substituted late in games. All he is missing is his first goal for P.N.E, then more should follow.

A surprise omission from the Georgia and Serbia squads, Maguire will surely get a look-in for the final two matches. His pace could trouble both Moldova and Wales.

Declan Rice

Made his first start for the U21s after impressing in the first few games of the Premier League season with West Ham.

Roy Keane described the defender as 'one for the future' ahead of the Georgia game. It takes a lot to rattle the 18-year-old and he prefers to stroke the ball around than lump it aimlessly. Come to think of it, that would have been handy against Georgia.

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Rice can also operate in midfield and has trained with the senior squad. Some would look at his age as a mark against him but Wales don't seem to mind, with Ben Woodburn (17) and Ethan Ampadu (16) in their most recent squad.

We would also draft Scott Hogan into the Ireland squad but, at 25, the Aston Villa striker is just out of that 'young' bracket, despite the fact that Robbie Brady once won FAI Young Player of the Year at the same age.

Also worth considering: Conor Masterson, Olamide Shodipo, Josh Cullen and Reece Grego-Cox

While you're here, check out the latest episode of #SportsJOElive where we had Irish legends Shay Given and Clinton Morrison on the couch!


Read more about:

Republic of Ireland, World Cup 2018