By Damian Spellman, PA
Will Keane will have an added sense of pride if he wins his first Republic of Ireland cap this week.
The 28-year-old, who represented England at Under-21 level, qualifies for Ireland through his father Aidan, and he will be at the forefront of the Wigan striker’s mind should manager Stephen Kenny choose to use him in the World Cup qualifiers against Portugal and Luxembourg.
Keane said: “My dad is Irish, he was born in Sligo. He was raised there and was actually an orphan. He went to boarding school and was adopted, and moved to England when he was 10.
“Unfortunately, my dad lost touch with his roots, for obvious reasons as he was given away as a child, but to sort of reconnect with that and have the opportunity to represent Ireland is a massive honour and something I’m really proud of doing.
“Because of the circumstances, he hasn’t stayed in touch with his family, so for him to reconnect with that is a massive thing, so he’s really proud. For me to give him that gives me a lot of pleasure.”
Former Manchester United trainee Keane, the twin brother of Everton and England defender Michael – who represented Ireland at underage level, has had to remain patient after declaring for the Republic following interest earlier in his career.
He was called up for last month’s fixtures against Azerbaijan and Qatar but did not make the matchday squad because of injury, although he revealed club-mate James McClean has ensured he was never very far from Kenny’s thoughts.
He said: “It first came on the radar a few years ago, under Mick McCarthy. That’s when I declared for Ireland, I think he was considering me for selection then. That’s quite a few years ago now.
“Since the start of this season, the manager has been coming to the games and has been watching me with James being a regular. I think he had a couple of discussions with the manager as well.
“He kept an eye on me and I was delighted to be included in the recent squad, and I’m looking forward to more.”
If Keane has cause to be grateful to Kenny, Andrew Omobamidele has joined up with Ireland with the club manager he credits for much of his success to date, Daniel Farke, having just lost his job.
The 19-year-old Norwich defender, who made his senior international debut against Portugal in September, has started his club’s last two Premier League games, scoring in a 2-1 home defeat by Leeds and playing his part in a first win of the campaign over Brentford on Saturday, after which Canaries boss Farke was relieved of his duties.
Omobamidele said: “What he has done for the club is just amazing, for the last four and a half years.
“Personally, he has been great. He gave me my debut and put me in the window to be here on the international stage.
“He put his trust in me to play games at the crunch time of last season in the Championship and he’s trusted me to give me a couple of appearances this season, and I will be forever grateful for that.”