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'A Huge Career' - It Sounds Like Ireland's Midfield Is Sorted For Years To Come

Gary Reilly
By Gary Reilly
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It could yet turn out to be a crucial summer in the development of Jack Byrne. Having come back from the Eredivisie with a reputation that was beginning to edge towards worrying levels of Irish expectation, the reality was that there was never going to be room for the young Dubliner in Pep Guardiola's Man City midfield.

Save from saving them relegation on his own, there wasn't much more he could have done for Cambuur. City's scouts can't but have been impressed but, when it comes to the highest level of English football, that's rarely (if ever) enough. Pep needs instant success, Byrne needs game time and it was never going to come at City. So what was the alternative?

The biggest worry would be that he'd return to City, train with the first team throughout pre-season, transfer window would draw to an end and eventually he'd head out on loan to a Championship club that didn't really need him but took him anyway. It happens every year and it could easily have happened again. Thankfully it didn't and by the sounds of what Owen Coyle has had to say, this is anything but a loan deal for the sake of it.

The 20 year old this week joined Blackburn for the coming season and if there was any doubt about the Dubliner's place in the squad, Coyle has quickly dispelled that. He's at Ewood to do a lot more than simply make up the numbers.

Jack Byrne is a player I’ve known for years, from when he came over from Dublin as a young kid.

When you get these young talented kids from Ireland, Scotland or wherever, then the elite clubs are aware of them and they all want them. Jack Byrne is one of those.


Coyle was speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph after completing the deal for the Ireland u21 international and having known about his potential before last season, the move to the Eredivisie just enhanced his belief in Byrne's ability.


He went to the Eredivisie in Holland, 19 years of age, to Cambuur, which is not a fashionable side and fighting at the bottom end of the table.

This kid, he stepped in and controlled games at 19 years of age, against Ajax, Feyenoord, against top, top teams. Having watched him for years, it really just added to what I had seen.

That he was good enough to go and do it, and that he had the tenacity, the wherewithal to take the ball in tight areas and pass and move the ball. This is a wonderful young player who can only get better, and who Manchester City have very high hopes for.

The next step now is to make a name for himself in England and despite a less than stellar campaign last year, Blackburn may well be the perfect place for Byrne to do that. Coyle is clearly delighted to get him on board and, by the sounds of it, he's more than willing to throw Byrne in where he needs to be this season.

He’s played in there next to a ball-winning midfielder, he’s the one who has been creative, but he’s very adept and he can also play in that No 10 behind a striker or two strikers, depending how you want to set up.

He’s got great set-piece delivery, he can find that final pass and he can score a goal himself. I think, just turned 20 now, he’s set for a huge career.

And what's even better for Ireland is that it just so happens that Coyle may have already inherited the perfect 'ball-winning midfielder' to step in alongside Byrne. Darragh Lenihan really forced his way into the Blackburn midfield last season and, judging by some of his performances, Coyle could do a lot worse than look to the Irish 22 year old as the perfect defensive foil to Byrne's attacking ability.

With the McCarthy, Hendrick and Brady trio already in situ, Ireland's midfield is looking rather healthy for the next decade at the very least.

And if we want to squeeze them all in, the prospective lineup for Russia 2018 doesn't look too bad at all.


We might come back to this in two years time with quite a bit of regret but, right now, we're fairly confident that team is going to get us to at least the quarter final of the World Cup.


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