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"Stevie O'Donnell Could Have Done That Role" - A Call For LOI Players To Be Included In Irish Squads

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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Following last night's ugly showing from Ireland, League of Ireland romantics are once more saying "come here, look at what we've got, will ya have a look at least?"

UEFA informed us that Ireland completed 94 passes in Belgrade last night. For context, Toni Kroos, the player with the best passing stats in Europe, completed an average of 111 passes per game in the Euros.

On Off the Ball, Dan McDonnell reminded us that Dundalk completed 357 passes from 455 attempts in their away Champions League tie against Legia Warsaw.

Sometimes the bald numbers don't provide the full picture. For instance, Warsaw did finish the game with ten men and Dundalk were obliged to chase throughout.


But it nonetheless bolstered the idea that the Irish setup should be at least seeking out what's available in the LOI rather than dismissing it out of hand.

Stuey Byrne banged the drum for Dundalk full back Dane Massey last year when Ireland were struggling to fill a gap. Martin O'Neill eventually drafted in Cyrus Christie.

The startling progress of Dundalk in Europe this year, combined with Ireland's ragged display last night, strengthened his resolve to agitate for the League tonight.


When you consider what Dundalk have achieved, when you consider the level of football they're playing at, and when you look at the performances last night in Ireland against Serbia, you'd have to question why one, maybe two players, haven't at least been looked at.

We talk about Glenn Whelan last night. Stevie O'Donnell could have done that role for me last night. Plus, he would have gotten on the ball, would be comfortable on the ball, has proved at a very, very high level that he can do that kind of role. I think it's come to the time where we should at least, at least, be looking at these guys in home friendlies. Why can't there be two domestic players in the squad for a home friendly? And that's a starting point.

Gary Rogers has got into the squad, credit to him, but it's come off the back of a conversation he had with Martin O'Neill at the soccer writers do.

Glenn Whelan was, as so often, used as a bit of a whipping boy. The phrase much maligned was in fact invented for the lad and yet, through it all, he has managed to nail down a place as a regular in a Premier League team for several years now. And we mean regular. Also, while we're on passing stats, Whelan completed 84 passes in a match for Stoke last year against Sunderland. He can clearly pass the ball.

The quota idea, a proposal which limits a manager's options, is one many are uneasy about, but Byrne argues the increasingly global outlook of the Premier League mean it's inevitable we're going to have to rely on our own League before too long.

Other countries have done it. The reality is that less and less players are getting away to England from this country. God knows what kind of state it is going to be in in ten years time. We're going to have to lean on the domestic game here to produce players.

Gary Rogers was the 12th League of Ireland player called up to the Ireland squad since Jack Charlton was appointed manager in 1986. The full list can be found here.

Read more: A History Of LOI Player International Call-Ups Since The Charlton Era

Read more: What Was The Greatest League Of Ireland Team Ever Assembled? - We Ask The Experts

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