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It's Time For Stephen Kenny To Hand Michael Obafemi An Ireland Recall

It's Time For Stephen Kenny To Hand Michael Obafemi An Ireland Recall
By Gary Connaughton

When Michael Obafemi burst onto the scene as an 18-year old at Southampton, there was a major scramble to nail down his international future. It was said that Ireland, England, and Nigeria were all interested in bringing him on board.

Born in Dublin before moving to the UK at an early age, it would be Ireland that would win that race.

Martin O'Neill handed him an international debut at the end of 2018, bringing him on as a substitute in the UEFA Nations League draw in Denmark. It was expected that the young striker would quickly establish himself as a prominent member of the squad.

However, this remains his only international cap to date.

There are a few reasons for that. Obafemi found playing time hard to come by at Southampton at times in the months and years that followed. When he did start to get some game time under his belt, injuries often became an issue.

Many expected Stephen Kenny to bring him back into the fold after his appointment, with Obafemi also performing well in the buildup to his first squad announcement. Somewhat surprisingly, there was no place found for him. This didn't go down particularly well with the player at the time.

He has not come all that near to making the squad since then, with his only international appearances coming in the U21 side.

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It could be time for this to change.

Michael Obafemi deserves Ireland call-up after Swansea form

After falling out of favour at Southampton, it was felt that Michael Obafemi badly needed a change of scenery. He got that at the start of the season by joining Swansea City on a permanent deal.

It took him some time to adjust to life in the Championship, but his quality is now beginning to show. Heading into this afternoon's clash against Coventry City, he had scored three goals in his last six appearances.

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Obafemi would go on to put in arguably the best performance of his young career to date, scoring twice and assisting another en route to a 3-1 victory.

Both goals were very well taken, with the striker twice breaking behind to finish neatly beyond the goalkeeper.


In terms of an international recall, his return to form could hardly be timed any better.

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Ireland will play two friendlies (against Belgium and Lithuania) later this month, with Stephen Kenny likely to call up a couple of new faces. With Adam Idah ruled out due to injury, there is also a vacancy up front that needs filling.

Obafemi is certainly deserving of an opportunity. Outside of Will Keane in League One, no other Irish striker can match his recent goalscoring return. He is also outperforming forwards such as Aaron Connolly and Callum Robinson in the Championship, both of whom are Ireland regulars.

It would be very intriguing to see what he could do at senior international level. The 21-year old boasts the type of pace that few others in the Irish squad can match, while his recent form suggests that his ability to finish in the box has also greatly improved.

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Stephen Kenny has previously expressed doubts about Obafemi's ability to play as a lone striker, having often played in a pair up front at Southampton. However, his two goals today came in a 3-4-2-1 formation that was incredibly similar to the one Ireland used over the latter half of 2021.

With nothing on the line in terms of qualification, this month offers the perfect opportunity to give Michael Obafemi a long overdue second Ireland cap.

His play since the turn of the year would certainly suggest that he deserves it.

SEE ALSO: Paul Merson & Michael Dawson Disagree On Mammoth Declan Rice Valuation

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