BISHOPSTOWN'S John Egan is set to be a major figure in the Irish defence under new boss Stephen Kenny.
Egan has been immense with Sheffield United, having shone in their promotion from the Championship last term, with Sky Sports' Charlie Nicholas picking the 27-year-old in his Premier League Team of the Season.
Egan did feature in recent Ireland matches under Mick McCarthy as they reached a Euro play-off against Slovakia, but his successor was surprised the son of former Kerry great John Egan senior has only three competitive starts for his country.
"The addition of John Egan altered the dynamic," said former Dundalk manager Kenny at his first press conference since succeeding McCarthy ahead of time due to the Covid-19 shutdown.
"Rather than having a pair of traditional number fives, it completely changes everything about how you play. That gives a great platform to build the rest, like having raiding full-backs.
“It’s hard to fathom how John has so few competitive caps because, when Sheffield United signed him for €4m (in July 2018), in my eyes he was probably ready then for our first-team."
Another defender excelling in the Premier League who has struggled for minutes in the green geansaí is Wolves' attacking wing-back Matt Doherty.
“With Matt, I don’t see it as a battle against Seamus Coleman, because he can play left-back or in advanced positions. Other players have been picked ahead of him.
“Sheffield United and Wolves have moved into the top six of the Premier League while keeping their fundamental values.
“Their players are never afraid to express themselves in any area of the park. They are comfortable in possession and not carrying anyone when trying to get the ball back.”
If Ireland beat Slovakia whenever their refixed clash takes place they'd meet the winner of Bosnia and Northern Ireland for a spot in the deferred Euros in 2021.
Kenny explained his philosophy, which will be familiar to those who watched his Dundalk and Ireland underage sides.
“It’s a short life and I will ensure we have conviction in how we play. I cannot promise it will always achieve results but I want every schoolboy club looking at our senior team wanting to play in that style.”