Football

Five Irish Players Looking To Make A Breakthrough In The Championship This Season

Five Irish Players Looking To Make A Breakthrough In The Championship This Season

The Championship kicks off Friday evening when Bournemouth host West Brom at the Vitality Stadium. English's second flight remains one of the most competitive and difficult leagues in the world, and it has also become a breeding ground for Irish internationals in recent years, for better or for worse.

This is partly due to many players developed on home soil being forced out of the so-called bigger Premier League clubs, and also, because we no longer have the calibre of player that we previously had.

But all is not lost, however. While many Irish players in the Championship are household names at this stage, there are a number of exciting young players in the Championship that we have yet to see in Stephen Kenny’s Ireland squads on a regular basis.

Here's five Irish players looking for a big breakthrough in the Championship this season.

Festy Ebosele, Derby County

Age: 19

Position: Defender

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Festy Ebosele

While Jason Knight is one who many first think of when it comes to young Irish players at Derby County, Festy Ebosele is one that will most certainly start to pop up in the same breath this year.

Formerly of St Joseph’s Boys and Bray Wanderers, Ebosele made his senior debut for the Rams midway through last season as Wayne Rooney’s first-team tried to get to grips with a Covid-19 outbreak in their squad.

He played in their 2-1 FA Cup defeat to non-league Chorley, but he has impressed suitably since then, making his first league bow in April against soon to be promoted Norwich City.

The 19-year-old would also feature off the bench twice more against Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End as Derby limped towards Championship survival.

As Derby head towards the new campaign in what appears to be dire straits, it may work out in favour of the Irish U21 international who is impressing during pre-season.

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He might want to stay away from his manager in training, however….

Jack Taylor, Peterborough United

Age: 23

Position: Midfielder

Jack Taylor

Perhaps not an unknown by any means to Stephen Kenny, but Peterborough United’s Jack Taylor will be hoping that he can use this upcoming season to its full effect after helping the Posh to promotion last term.

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Taylor was previously involved with Kenny at U21 level after impressing with Barnet in the non-leagues in the UK. He qualifies to play for the Boys in Green by virtue of his grandfather who is from Longford.

He joined Peterborough from Barnet for an initial fee of £500,000 having seriously impressed while at Barnet’s first-team over a four-year period at the club.

The 23-year-old established himself as a permanent fixture in the Peterborough side last season, and if he can continue to do that this season, we may see him in a Green jersey for the Boys in Green very shortly.

Jimmy Dunne, QPR

Age: 23

Position: Defender

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Jimmy Dunne

Hailing from Co. Louth, Jimmy Dunne will be hoping that he can make the most of his latest switch after his permanent departure from Burnley was made official in July.

Dunne has yet to make a real impact on the senior Irish set-up despite being named in a couple of squads previously, and you get the impression this move may give him the opportunity to do just that.

The 23-year-old has previously had stints with Sunderland, Hearts and Fleetwood Town most recently as he has gone in search of regular first-team football.

And if he manages to do just that this year for Mark Warburton’s side, will be on the radar of a certain Mr. Kenny very quickly one may assume.

Sam Szmodics, Peterborough United

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Age: 25

Position: Midfielder

Sam Szmodics

Similar to his Peterborough teammate Jack Taylor, Szmodics has already piqued the interest of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny, who has previously called him up to the senior squad.

He is eligible to represent the Boys in Green through his Longford-born grandmother and was called up to Kenny’s squad last June. An injury cost him an Ireland cap.

The 25-year-old joined Peterborough from Bristol City on a permanent basis last season and would go on to score 16 goals in their successful promotion hunt.

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If he can do it on the Championship stage again for the Posh, Kenny may very well have his head turned by Szmodics yet again.

Gavin Kilkenny, Bournemouth

Age: 21

Position: Midfielder

Gavin Kilkenny

21-year-old Gavin Kilkenny heads into the new season at Bournemouth with what looks to be a great opportunity to force his way into Scott Parker’s plans this season at the Vitality Stadium.

Of course, the former St Kevin’s Boys youngster has only made two senior appearances for the Cherries, with one coming last term, but opportunity knocks for him this year.

A talented hurler and Gaelic footballer, the Ireland U21 has played for the Boys in Green at under-15, 16, 17 and under-19 level previously.

And going by his first showing of the season in Bournemouth’s 5-0 win over MK Dons in the League Cup, where he grabbed an assist, he is one to keep a close eye on.

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