Ireland have a myriad of options when it comes to selecting their centre backs.
John Egan and Shane Duffy are arguably two of the first names on the team sheet under Stephen Kenny, while Seamus Coleman has also played on the right of a back three on occasion.
When it comes to young promising players, Andrew Omobamidele, Nathan Collins, and Dara O'Shea have all impressed at club or international level over the last 12 months or so. The likes of Kevin Long, Darragh Lenihan, and Ciaran Clark (although he has since been left out of Newcastle's Premier League squad) have also been in the squad at times.
All of this leaves little room for others to make a breakthrough in this position. If someone is likely to do so in the weeks and months ahead, it has to be Jimmy Dunne.
Only last summer, the 24-year old was at a crossroads in his career. He had turned down a new contract at Burnley, although he struggled to find a new club for a number of weeks.
Eventually, QPR came calling. He hasn't looked back since.
Dunne has been in stunning form for the Championship club this season, starting all but one of their league fixtures since the end of September. The defender has played a key role in their promotion push with QPR currently sitting in fourth position in the table.
He certainly seems to be enjoying life at Loftus Road.
— QPR FC (@QPR) March 13, 2022
Playing a part of a back three, he has excelled.
Jimmy Dunne and his quick rise at QPR
He has taken somewhat of a roundabout way to this point in his career, but Dunne's development is certainly on the right track.
That wasn't always necessarily the case at Burnley. Having joined the club as a 16-year old, he would spend time on loan at the likes of Barrow, Hearts, and Sunderland, all to varying degrees of success.
When his brief first team opportunity eventually did come at Turf Moor due to injuries within the squad early last season, Sean Dyche wasn't always the most patient. Speaking to The Athletic earlier this week, Dunne admitted he was surprised by some of the criticism his then manager directed at him at times.
Playing against Jamie Vardy and Danny Ings… It felt like there were four Ingses on the pitch, that’s how good these guys are.
If you are not doing the job assigned, you will get told by the gaffer. I made a couple of mistakes and there was no, ‘It’s Jimmy’s first game’. It was, ‘What are you doing!?!’
I thought Dyche was harsh on me. I couldn’t believe he would speak to me like that and at the time it might have got to me but the whole experience made me into a man.
Having started the first two Premier League games of the season (including a debut goal), he would not feature again until the final weekend of the campaign.
Now with a run at QPR under his belt, he is beginning to shine. International recognition is surely on the horizon.
Dunne has been called up to the Ireland squad on a couple of occasions before. The first came under Martin O'Neill in November of 2018, a period during which the player was being linked with an international switch to Northern Ireland. He quashed those rumours at the time, receiving a second call-up under Mick McCarthy a few months later.
However, he did not feature on either occasion and has not been included in the squad since.
That could well change this week as Stephen Kenny names his panel to take on Belgium and Lithuania in friendlies later this month.
Jimmy Dunne is a natural fit in the squad considering his ability to play as part of a back three. With Andrew Omobamidele unavailable due to injury, there is a spot there to be filled.
At 24-years old and having displayed some drastic improvement over the course of this season, the Louth native is exactly the type of player that should have no trouble fitting in in this current Ireland setup.
He certainly deserves the opportunity.