Mick McCarthy has named his provisional squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia later this month.
There are first senior call-ups for Bournemouth goalkeeper Mark Travers, Newport County striker Padraig Amond and Luton Town striker James Collins.
There are a number of players who return to the squad after different lengths of time away from the international setup for various reasons including Aidan McGeady, James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan and David McGoldrick.
Mark Travers played underage for Shamrock Rovers Under-15s for the 2015 and 2016 season before signing a deal with AFC Bournemouth.
Carlow born Padraig Amond started his senior career with Shamrock Rovers and also played with Kildare County on loan and Sligo Rovers before beginning his adventure abroad.
He is currently plying his trade with Newport County in League Two. His F.A Cup heroics this season and impressive return in front of goal has been noticed by McCarthy and has included him in the provisional 38-man squad which will be cut to 23 prior to the team travelling to Gibraltar.
Amond’s senior career began with a healthy return in front of goal too scoring 15 goals in 62 appearances for Shamrock Rovers and 17 goals in just 27 appearances for Sligo Rovers.
The third player to receive his first call-up is Luton Town striker James Collins. Born and raised in England, Collins has represented Ireland at Under-19 and Under-21 level and is eligible for Ireland through his parents.
Collins has been prolific in front of goal in this season’s League One campaign helping himself to twenty league goals this season in thirty five appearances.
There is a fantastic Airtricity League representation in McCarthy’s squad announced today with no less than fifteen former players from the league receiving call-ups.
The squad is set to be finalised and cut to a total of twenty three players ahead of the Three FAI International Awards which will take place on Sunday, March 17th.
Although two of the three players called up to the squad for the first time are playing in the lower leagues in England (Amond in League Two and Collins in League One), McCarthy was keen to stress that this wasn’t really much of a concern to him when he was making his decision and feels their form this season should be rewarded.
“I don’t think it can be easily dismissed when players are playing at their level and scoring goals.” said McCarthy when asked about the new faces in the squad.
“James and Padraig are both having fantastic seasons and I think that should be recognised and rewarded. Regardless of the level they are playing at, if there is someone who is scoring 20 goals a season and a chance falls their way there’s a good chance they will put it in the net and that’s exactly how I was thinking.”
Glenn Whelan is a player who has returned to the squad after a break away from the international scene. Notably McCarthy did refer to this only being the provisional squad but believes Whelan is a player who can still possibly be used in certain games, whether that will be in the March double header remains to be seen.
“I asked him if he has retired and he said he hadn’t, he’s playing very well at the moment and with Hourihane as well so there’s a good partnership there. At least there is a bit of an understanding of them playing together those two. Whether he ends up being in the final squad remains to be seen but we’ll see.”
Daryl Murphy wasn’t included in today’s squad but Mick did confirm he was in touch with the Nottingham Forest striker regarding his stance if he was to need him at some stage during the qualifying campaign.
“I had a conversation with him alright but it wasn’t with regards to this squad.” said McCarthy.
“He is now of an age where he likes to have that time off when the international fixtures come around and that will benefit him hugely in terms of his club commitments. I mentioned to him that I may need him at some stage over the course of the campaign in certain situations and he didn’t rule it out.”
One player who has been the topic of conversation among Irish fans quite a lot in recent months is Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford. McCarthy had previously said that he was eager to meet Bamford but had found it difficult with the busy schedules they both had.
With the weeks passing by, the momentum that had been built around Bamford seemed to be waning slightly but is well and truly back on track with McCarthy confirming that although he is still finding it difficult to arrange a meeting he has had reassurance from Bamford that he is still very much interested.
“The last contact I had with him was last weekend,” said McCarthy regarding Bamford.
“I congratulated him on his goal and asked if he still wanted to join us, he said yes and I’m now hoping to meet him, I haven’t given up on it.
“Hopefully we can see him before we travel to Gibraltar, that’s not setting him a deadline but that’s the hope.”
Ireland will get their qualifying campaign up and running in Gibraltar on March 23rd before taking on Georgia at the Aviva on March 26th.
Republic of Ireland Provisional Squad
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Kieran O'Hara (Macclesfield Town*), Mark Travers (Bournemouth)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Richard Keogh (Derby County), John Egan (Sheffield United), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Kevin Long (Burnley), Jimmy Dunne (Sunderland*), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers), Stephen Ward (Burnley)
Midfielders: Aiden McGeady (Sunderland), Alan Judge (Ipswich Town), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Harry Arter (Cardiff City*), Glenn Whelan (Aston Villa), David Meyler (Coventry City*), Shaun Williams (Millwall), Robbie Brady (Burnley), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City), James McClean (Stoke City), Daryl Horgan (Hibernian)
Forwards: Shane Long (Southampton), Sean Maguire (Preston North End), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth), Scott Hogan (Sheffield United*), Aiden O'Brien (Millwall), David McGoldrick (Sheffield United), James Collins (Luton Town), Padraig Amond (Newport County)