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8 Football League Teams Irish Fans Should Keep An Eye On This Season

8 Football League Teams Irish Fans Should Keep An Eye On This Season
By Gary Connaughton Updated

While there is plenty of Irish interest in the Premier League ahead of its return this season, we can't overlook the impact that some of our players are set to have a bit lower down the football pyramid.

A number of teams in the English Football League will be depending heavily on Irish players this season. Some will be hoping to push for promotion, while others will be looking to consolidate their place in the division.

Here are eight teams Irish football fans should be keeping an eye on this season.

Preston North End

Image credit: Sportsfile

A classic of this genre, Preston will head into this season with genuine Premier League aspirations. They just about missed out on the play-offs last season and will be hoping that Sean Maguire and Alan Browne can help them go a step further in this campaign.

Maguire recently penned a new contract with the club and will want to perform better in front of goal after a patchy campaign last time out. Browne, who is now in the final year of his contract, has been used in midfield and at right back over the last 12 months.

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They will certainly be in the promotion mix.

Rochdale

Rochdale are a club to pay close attention to this season. Not only are they managed by Irishman Brian Barry-Murphy, but they will also have one of the brightest prospects in Irish football on the books.

Gavin Bazunu has joined the League One club on loan from Manchester City, with the 18-year old expected to be their first choice goalkeeper. This will be Bazunu's first venture into first team football in England, and as someone who shoulders huge expectations going forward, it will be very interesting to see how he gets on.

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He is not the only Irish player in the squad. Paul McShane, Eoghan O'Connell, Jimmy Keohane, and Jimmy Ryan will also feature for the club.

Millwall

It's Troy Parrott time. After giving many Irish football fans their first look at Jayson Molumby last season, Millwall have taken another one of the best young talents in Irish football on loan for the upcoming campaign.

The 18-year old will be getting consistent first team football for the first time in his career and we are hugely excited to see how he gets on in the demanding atmosphere of the Championship. The early signs are good, with Parrott scoring in each of his two friendly appearances in pre-season.

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Unfortunately, he is likely to miss the first couple of weeks of the season due to an injury he picked up just after scoring that goal. However, it won't be before he is back fit and firing.

The other Irish interest at Millwall comes in the form of veteran players Shaun Williams and Alex Pearce, while there are whispers that Jayson Molumby could yet rejoin the club for another loan spell.

Blackburn Rovers

Darragh Lenihan enjoyed a stellar season in the Championship last year, and has seemingly now become third choice centre back in the Ireland squad under Stephen Kenny.

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While he didn't feature in the games against Finland and Bulgaria, the Meath man will be hoping to get some playing time on the international scene over the coming months. A strong start to the season for Blackburn would certainly boost his chances.

He is joined at the club by Derrick Williams, who was having a strong season of his own in 19/20 before it was curtailed by injury.

They are another club who will be hoping to push for promotion over the coming months.

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Mansfield Town

One you probably wouldn't have immediately thought of, but League Two side Mansfield have a sizeable Irish contingent this season.

Harry Charsley, Aaron O'Driscoll, James Clarke, Corey O'Keeffe, and Ryan Sweeney will all be at the club, who finished 21st in the English fourth tier last season. They will be hoping for a much stronger campaign in 2020/21.

Lincoln City

Image credit: Sportsfile

While Conor Coventry's loan spell at the club has ended, Lincoln City still have a couple of players to keep Irish supporters intrigued. Zack Elbouzedi, who starred for the Ireland U21s under Stephen Kenny, is about to embark on his first full campaign with the club having joined in January of this year.

He made five appearances in League One last season and will be hoping to kick on in the coming months.

He is joined at the club by Anthony Scully, the 21-year old London-born winger who has been capped by Ireland at every level up to U19. The West Ham academy product also joined the club earlier this year after leaving his boyhood club on a permanent basis.

 

QPR

Ryan Manning is the name that will catch the attentions of most Ireland fans at QPR, but he is not the only Irishman who will be plying his trade at Loftus Road this season.

Conor Masterson enjoyed a very strong second half to the season last time around, establishing himself in the defence after joining from Liverpool the previous summer. He has been a key player for Ireland at u21 level so we are interested to see how he progresses.

After recovering from injury, winger Olamide Shodipo also battled his way back into the team. At 23-years old, he will be looking to take the next step in his career.

As for Manning, he will be hoping that moments of magic such as this one can lead to a long overdue spot in the Ireland squad.

 

MK Dons

The final side on this list, League One club MK Dons have an interesting Irish contingent this season.

Richard Keogh is set to step back into the game after his lengthy injury absence and will likely play a key role for a side who will be hoping to make a promotion push over the next few months.

He is joined in the Milton Keynes defence by 21-year old on-loan Brighton man Warren O'Hora, while former Cardiff midfielder Joe Mason is also at the club.

 

See Also: Here's 7 Irish Premier League Questions That Could Be Answered This Season


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