Stephen Kenny has named his Ireland squad for the upcoming friendlies against Belgium and Lithuania.
There are call ups for Scott Hogan, St Mirren's Connor Ronan and Mark Sykes of Oxford United, who switched allegiance from Northern Ireland, while Ireland's in-form striker Michael Obafemi will not be part of the squad.
Ireland squad announced
SQUAD CONFIRMED 🇮🇪
Kenny names 25-man squad as @OUFCOfficial midfielder Mark Sykes and Connor Ronan receives first senior international call-up
➡️ https://t.co/nFWOXf3gpq#COYBIG - #WeAreOne - #WeAre100 pic.twitter.com/ERbGzVMhCp
— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) March 18, 2022
Scott Hogan's name is a surprise inclusion, considering he has not played for the Republic of Ireland since 2019, especially in light of Obafemi's brilliant form of late.
Obafemi has been in scintillating goal-scoring form for Swansea over the past two months, scoring 6 goals in 9 games in the Championship.
However speaking today at a press event, Kenny said Obafemi had ruled himself out because he was wary of picking up an injury. However Kenny reiterated that Obafemi remains committed to Ireland.
Stephen Kenny explains Michael Obafemi's situation. Says he was never in line for latest Under-21 squad and explains how persistent hamstring injuries have curtailed his opportunities to represent Ireland #rtesoccer pic.twitter.com/wUJbgxtd9z
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 18, 2022
Earlier in the week, Jim Crawford revealed Obafemi had turned down the opportunity to link up with the Ireland U21s this month.
“It’s unfortunate from an U21s perspective but I’ve had a conversation with his agent and that’s where it’s at at the minute.
“The last thing I said to the agent was that, if he ever feels that he wants to come to the 21s, don’t hesitate to call because we’ll have a conversation around that.”
Kenny was present when Connor Ronan scored the winner as St Mirren beat Hibs last month, so his inclusion is fully deserved.
Belgium has revealed the squad it will bring to Dublin. It's a squad consisting of players with 50 or fewer caps and while there are some familiar names like Christian Benteke, it's not comparable to the side that currently top the FIFA rankings.
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) March 18, 2022