THERE IS a strong Cork flavour to Martin O'Neill's 30-man provisional squad for the friendly in Turkey on Friday, March 23.
In-form former Cork City striker Seanie Maguire is back in the squad after he marked his return from injury with three goals in two games for Preston, along with Mahon-native Alan Browne, Bandon's Conor Hourihane, David Meyler, defender Kevin Long, keeper Colin Doyle and another former City striker Shane Long.
Browne and Hourihane have been outstanding lately for Preston and Aston Villa respectively, firing some stunning goals for midfield and pushing their teams up the Championship table. Kevin Long has featured at centre-back for Burnley in the Premier League.
Ireland's first game of 2018 will come at the end of a three-day training camp in Antalya and kicks off what will be a busy year with friendly games against United States, France, Poland and Northern Ireland, as well as UEFA Nations League games with Denmark and Wales.
Captain Seamus Coleman returns to the squad a year after suffering injury in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Wales, while Greg Cunningham, Alan Judge, and Sean Maguire are also included following long-term injuries.
There are first senior call-ups for goalkeeper Kieran O'Hara, defenders Declan Rice, Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams and Enda Stevens. Both O'Hara and Rice had previously trained with the squad but were never included for a match-day squad.
Also, O'Hara and Rice will report directly to the Ireland U21s after the camp finishes in order to be available for the UEFA European Championship qualifier against Azerbaijan on Tuesday, March 27 in Tallaght Stadium.
The squad will meet up ahead of the 3 FAI International Awards on Sunday, March 18 in RTÉ Studios and depart for Turkey the next morning. After the game on Friday, March 23, the squad will return to Dublin and leave camp.
Republic of Ireland Squad:
Goalkeepers: Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Colin Doyle (Bradford City), Kieran O'Hara (Manchester United), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday).
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Declan Rice (West Ham United), John Egan (Brentford), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Kevin Long (Burnley), Alex Pearce (Derby County), Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams (Blackburn Rovers), Greg Cunningham (Preston North End), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United).
Midfielders: Alan Judge (Brentford), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), David Meyler (Hull City), Eunan O'Kane (Leeds United), Liam Kelly (Reading), Alan Browne, Daryl Horgan (Preston North End), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion).
Forwards: Shane Long (Southampton), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Sean Maguire (Preston North End)