When the Ireland team is named on Thursday for that evening's do-or-die game with Slovakia, it's very unlikely to feature the name Jack Byrne. Stephen Kenny included the Shamrock Rovers man in his 24-man squad for the three games Ireland face over the next week and a half, but having not been included for the manager's first two games, it's hard to see a scenario where he is trusted in the first game of the week, the most important one by far.
Byrne's display in Tallaght a couple of weeks ago when AC Milan came to town convinced a lot of people that the former Manchester City man could hold his own at international level. Those who were watching Shamrock Rovers' dusmantling of Sligo last night on their relentless march to the League of Ireland title will have only had that belief reinforced.
A goal and as assist from Byrne last night illustrated the form the 24-year-old is in. His assist for Rovers' second goal in particular, a defence splitting pass to Graham Burke that only he saw, drew gasps of appreciation from anyone watching.
Assist of the season!? 👀
Incredible from @Jackb_8 🔥
Wonderful finish from Graham Burke as @ShamrockRovers double their lead (2-0)
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— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) October 2, 2020
In the second half, Byrne capped off another excellent performance with a goal of his own. It was his fourth goal in the last three games, and his 8th of the shortened League of Ireland season.
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) October 2, 2020
A slight worry will be that he departed the game late on with a slight injury, though Rovers manager Stephen Bradley said there's no reason for concern after the game.
"No issues. He felt is groin a little bit but fine, that's why we took him off straight away. He'll be fine."
Before the season was halted in March, Byrne was already in outstanding form, dominating every Rovers he game he played in. He scored a brilliant winner in the 3-2 win over Dundalk in February in front of Mick McCarthy and there was a serious call for him to be involved in then upcoming playoff with Slovakia.
Now, seven months later, that playoff still hasn't been played, and Byrne's form is even better still.
Stephen Kenny will know the standard he's playing with and against better than anyone, and will have to make an assessment. One thing is for sure though, there isn't another player in the Irish squad like Jack Byrne. If we need something to happened in Bratislava, are there better options?