Six Players Looking To Impress Ahead of Ireland's Friendly Fixtures
As The Republic of Ireland's preparations for Euro 2016 continue over the upcoming international break with friendlies against Switzerland (25th March) and Slovakia (29th March), we take a look at some of the fringe players in Martin O'Neill's squad who'll be looking to make an impact and stake their claim on a seat on the team plane come June.
Darren Randolph's parsimonious ‘keeping kept the Newcastle stopper out of the team for the duration of the qualification campaign, but with Randolph playing only in cup competitions for West Ham, and Elliot being very much the established first choice at Newcastle, he'll be hoping his match sharpness can help him edge his way into contention for the Irish number one jersey during these duo of matches.
The former Bohemians man has established himself as a mainstay of Mick McCarthy's Wolves side in recent times following a series of loans, but defender is still chasing his first cap. The Irish management team will be keen to cast their eye over the Dublin native, not least because his versatility - he can slot in anywhere across a back four - could prove a valuable asset to a championship squad should injury or misfortune strike down any of the more established members of the side's rear-guard.
The Birmingham city man is yet another central midfielder looking to claim his first cap in the upcoming matches. At 27, the playmaker still awaits his first cap, but his remarkable consistency of performance of the Midlands club has seen him earn a chance of enjoying an outside chance of a journey to France, after a journeyed career in the English lower leagues.
The former Coleraine man has rocketed up the footballing pyramid in recent times, and now can be considered a valuable squad player in Eddie Howe's safety-chasing Cherries side. With thirteen premier league appearances under his belt this season, the technically competent midfielder will be hoping to earn his first, perhaps overdue, minutes in an Ireland shirt. The absence through injury from the squad of his club team-mate Harry Arter gives O'Kane a chance to press his case for inclusion as the auxiliary playmaker and back-up to Everton's James McCarthy in the European championship squad.
Aberdeen's nascent challenge to Celtic's monopoly of success in Scotland has had two key Irish components, Adam Rooney and Jonny Hayes. While, unfortunately, the 19-goal Rooney still awaits a first cap due to injury, spritely winger Hayes has been included in Martin O'Neill's final 33 man squad for the upcoming matches and will be hoping to gain some valuable minutes in his first call-up at the age of 28.
The Brentford man played an important role in his side's play-off charge last season, and he has cemented his place at Griffin Park this campaign. Explosive and unpredictable, Judge has added goals- he's scored 14 this season- to his fleet-footed wing play of late, and if given the chance he'll hope to force himself into contention for an impact-sub position for the championships.