Many an eyebrow was raised when Jack Byrne's name wasn't included in Martin O'Neill's senior squad for next Wednesday's friendly with Oman but the Manchester City youngster, currently on loan at Blackburn, will have his chance to impress in the green jersey after being named in Noel King's panel for the UEFA U-21 Championship qualifiers against Slovenia and Serbia on the 2nd and 6th of September.
The 20-year-old creative midfielder was in sensational form for Dutch side Cambuur in the Eredivsie last season and a run of good form in the Championship should expedite his senior debut in the national side. Another played named in the U-21 squad who would seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough to the senior setup include Eoghan O'Connell (cousin of Paul, don't you forget), while Thomas Hoban and Kevin Toner probably aren't far away either.
A few regular names are missing through injury and suspension including Conor Wilkinson, Brian Lenihan, Sam Byrne and Ian Lawlow, while Callum O'Dowda has made the transition to the full squad.
Boss Noel King said of his selection:
We've a tough period ahead with these two games and then the visit of Serbia in October. Slovenia are ranked ahead of us and showed over there that they are a good team but what was disappointing from our point of view was the fact that we conceded three goals from set pieces in that game.
We have to look at that. We will look to correct it and will try to win this game on Friday. There is a lot of emotion around the game with us returning to Waterford for the first time without Milo Corcoran with us following his sad death earlier this week.
We'll all try to do the best we can for him. He was a man of high standards and will be a huge loss around the staff table and amongst the players, where he was very highly respected.
Qualification is unfortunately an impossibility at this point for King's side but they will look to use these two games to finish the campaign strongly and blood some of the younger players for the next.
The full squad for the games against Slovenia in Waterford on Sept. 2nd and away in Serbia on Sept. 6th is:
- Daniel Rogers (Aberdeen - on loan at Falkirk)
- Liam Bossin (RSC Anderlecht)
- Tommie Hoban (Watford - on loan at Blackburn)
- Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers)
- Kevin Toner (Aston Villa - on loan at Walsall)
- Sean Hoare (St Patrick's Athletic)
- Glen Rea (Luton Town)
- Eoghan O'Connell (Celtic)
- Sean Kavanagh (Fulham)
- Joshua Cullen (West Ham - on loan at Bradford)
- Alan Browne (Preston North End)
- Connor Dimiao (Chesterfield)
- Kevin O'Connor (Cork City)
- Jack Byrne (Manchester City - on loan at Blackburn)
- Harry Charsley (Everton)
- Sean Maguire (Cork City)
- Courtney Duffus (Everton)
- Dylan Connolly (Bray Wanderers)
- Reece Grego-Cox (QPR)
- Olamide Shopido (QPR)
- Jake Mulraney (Inverness Caley Thistle)