As the fall-out from Euro 2012 continues, the question on everybody’s lips is will Giovanni Trapattoni overhaul Ireland’s playing style? Will those who failed so miserably at Euro 2012 be jettisoned and new faces given the chance to lead us to World Cup 2014? Póg Mo Goal looks at ten young guns who can come into the fray and fire us to Brazil.
The 22-year-old can play at centre-back, left-back or central midfield. He’s a former captain of the England U19s but made his début for his newly adopted Ireland in the Carling Nations Cup game against Wales. Clark made 15 appearances in the Premier League last season scoring against Arsenal. Injury curtailed his chances at Villa Park but his versatility should make him an attractive proposition for Giovanni Trapattoni. At least, one would think so.
Second-season syndrome affected Donegal’s Seamus Coleman last season but it would have been hard to match the previous campaign’s exploits. Nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year, Coleman, the former Sligo Rovers star, won the club equivalent at Everton. He was the Irish U21 player of the year in both 2009 and 2010. Injury affected the 23-year-old’s appearances at club level last term when an ankle-ligament problem ruled him out of action early in the campaign. Like Clark, he was handed his Irish début in the Nations Cup tie with Wales. On the stand-by list for Euro 2012, Coleman, who can operate at right-back and right wing, will need a good start at Everton next season to convince Trapattoni to accommodate him.
Marc Wilson made 35 appearances for Stoke City last season. Deployed by Tony Pulis at left-back, Wilson can also play a midfield role. A miscommunication issue with Giovanni Trapattoni encouraged Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill to attempt to entice the 24-year-old back across the border. He stood firm despite some bizarre comments from Trapattoni aimed in his direction. The versatile Wilson also made his Irish début in the game with Wales at Lansdowne Road but has been unable to dislodge Stephen Ward from the full-back slot or stake a claim for a midfield berth. With Ward’s form dipping in an Irish shirt, Wilson may be the man to take his place.
At the centre of the Northern Ireland-Republic tug of war, Shane Duffy was called up to Giovanni Trappattoni’s training camp in May 2010. A freak collision saw the 20-year-old Derryman rushed to hospital for live-saving surgery to repair his damaged liver. He returned to appear for the Irish U19s and U21s. The Everton centre-back made his Premier League début against Spurs in January 2012 and was called up to replace Richard Dunne in the Republic squad for the friendly with the Czech Republic last February.
The former Shelboune starlet has established himself at Carrow Road with some stand-out performances in the Premier League last season Twenty-five league appearances yielded 4 goals while the 30-year-old was also handed the captain’s armband on a number of occasions last term.
Hoolahan was included in Trapattoni’s initial training squad in Portugal when the Italian was named Ireland manager. Save for a friendly appearance against Colombia at Craven Cottage, Trapattoni has consistently dismissed Hoolahan’s role in his fabled system. That may all change now. Chris Hughton’s appointment at Norwich could also benefit the Dubliner.
Norwich’s Pilkington was capped once for the Irish U21s in a 3-0 win over Lithuania but has yet to fully pledge his future to the Republic. The 24-year-old can play on the wing or in the striker’s role and netted 8 times for the Canaries last season having signed in the summer of 2011. He made 32 appearances last term. Hopefully Hughton can convince him to commit fully to the Irish cause.
The third of a potential Norwich trio, Tierney has not yet declared for the Republic despite his brother being capped at U21 level. The 26-year-old left-back moved to Carrow Road in January 2011 and made 17 league appearances last season but an injury at Christmas ruled him out for the rest of the campaign. Adam Drury deputised in his place but has signed for Leeds United ahead of the new term leaving Tierney in pole position to nail a starting berth under Hughton.
The younger brother of Stephen was a regular member of Trapattoni’s Irish squads during World Cup 2010 qualifying but fell out of favour with the emergence of Simon Cox and Jonathan Walters. The striking role is one position where Trapattoni has shown a preference for Premier League performers, or bench-warmers at the very least. Hunt now meets that criteria with Reading’s return to the top flight. The Waterford man scored eight times as Brian McDermott’s side secured the Championship title.
James McClean’s stunning beginning to life as a Premier League player with Sunderland has catapulted him to the head of the queue for Ireland’s new recruits. The former Derry City star made his début in Martin O’Neill’s first game in charge of the Black Cats scoring his first goal one game later in the win against Wigan. The 22-year-old scored five times in 23 appearances and was parachuted into the Irish squad for the European Championship eventually seeing game-time against Spain. For many, the Irish revolution will be built around winger McClean and James McCarthy. He has a huge season ahead.
McCarthy has a had a turbulent relationship with the Irish senior side having withdrawn from a number of squads. He didn’t appear in the Carling Nations Cup but his initial reasons were slow in forthcoming as more communication issues dogged Trapattoni’s management. His club manager Roberto Martinez’s assertion that the midfielder was tired held little sway with the Irish boss. Despite making just three international appearances, McCarthy’s hugely impressive displays at club level have convinced many he is worthy of breaking up the woefully inadequate Whelan-Andrews partnership. The heart-breaking omission from the Euro squad due to his father’s serious illness should only heighten the desire of Irish fans to see him play a pivotal part in the future direction of the national team.