With the 2016 European Championship Finals in France fast approaching, who has Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill got in his mind to board the plane as part of his squad ? Irish players at the moment are playing out of their skins to try and persuade the boss they deserve a place. Martin and his assistant Roy Keane have been clocking up the miles, as they travel everywhere to see as many of the Irish players as possible. The Irish have not got a huge pool of players to draw from, but Martin knows quite well, that whoever he brings to France will give their all in the green jersey. A lot of the players that will get picked are household names but quite a few will be unknown to the public outside of Ireland. I have been keeping a close eye on the players who could be involved and I have picked out three that O’Neill should consider. The three players that I have in mind are Damien Delaney, Adam Rooney and young Leeds United striker Eoghan Stokes.
Delaney is a must to go for me. He last played for Ireland in a game against Turkey, after the game he had a long conversation with Martin O’Neill and things ended up on a slippery slope as the player declined an offer to go on and end of season tour to USA. Delaney did not go and the manager has not picked him since. Unfortunately at the time, the manager could not guarantee Damien a starting space. The Crystal Palace player has been out of favour ever since. But in my opinion the player needs to be included again, for the better of the squad. Damien is playing at the top level of English football on a weekly basis, putting in good performances under the guidance of Palace manager Alan Pardew. This has to be a big plus for Martin O’Neill as he needs the best players available in every position, to put on a good show in France. When asked recently about Delaney been in the squad for France, Martin O’Neill did not rule it out. This, I am sure is a softening in his attitude towards the centre half, which can only be a plus for the Crystal Palace player if he has any dream of going to the Finals.
One thing Ireland will need at the tournament is a goal scorer. Robbie Keane has led the line now for more years than I care to remember and I am not sure that what is in line behind him, will step up to the plate. There are a few players in the squad who can get you a goal or two, Shane Long and Jonathan Walters for example. But I would like to throw a new name forward to get himself on the plane, please step forward Aberdeen,s Adam Rooney. Adam has been capped nine times at under 21 level and now at the age of 27, the time is right to give him his chance. Rooney has plenty of experience around the leagues and has played for Stoke, Birmingham, Inverness and Oldham to name just a few. This season Adam has been banging goals in on a regular basis for his club and statistics show,he is the in form Irish striker at the moment. This week O’Neill picks his squad for two pre tournament friendlies and I would have picked the Aberdeen striker to start in both matches. Only problem is that Rooney has picked up an injury which has ruled him out of both games. It has to be a huge disappointment for the player as he has been in the best form of his career this season. Hopefully the manager will get a chance to look at the player before the finals and the player can only hope he keeps up the good performances when he returns from injury, leaving the manager no choice but to pick him.
Eoghan Stokes is a young striker playing at Leeds United and is one for the future, but I do not think this should stand in his way of been picked for this tournament. The experience he would gain by been part of the squad can only be good for him and Irish squads of the future. Their are a lot of people pushing for Eoghan to be included and I feel Martin should at least have a look. Eoghan has played a big part in under 16, 17 and 19 squads for the Republic and a call up to the senior squad can only help the young lad from Dublin. Crazy as my claim might sound for Eoghan to be included, I do remember Sven taking Theo Walcott to the World Cup and look how it helped in his development. I certainly would love to see Martin O’Neill take a chance – go on Martin give the lad a call.
By David Meier