Put 'Em Under Pressure - Irish next gen ready to step up

Katie Taylor's illumination of female boxing and Conor McGregor's return to the octagon has put Ireland back on the scene in regards to the sporting world. On the other side, it will only be a matter of time before the mess that is the FAI begins to emerge from its current crisis. It may be a wishful conclusion but the only way is surely up. John Delaney and co. have entertained yet robbed us and kept RTE news busy over the last few years but it is time to move on. MacTireSports is staying optimistic for the Irish game in 2020. Qualification for the European Championship is in our hands and some of the players mentioned below could well have their part to play.

**All statistics are courtesy of whoscored.com

There are a number of players looking to make a breakthrough this season. The noise around Troy Parrott has gathered attention, despite no Premier League minutes thus far at Tottenham. He is just 17 years old so time is on his side. Adam Idah is just a year older and recently hit a hat trick in the FA Cup for Norwich. Michael Obafemi scored an excellent goal to put Southampton on their way to victory at Chelsea but the agile striker needs to get himself some more first team football. These three players alone bring different qualities and Obafemi in particular has looked very comfortable on his rare outings at the top level.

Potential is one thing but breaking into a side for first team minutes is important and Aaron Connolly, at 19, announced himself on the scene with a brace in Brighton's 3-0 win against Tottenham alongside making his Ireland debut. He has started nine premier league games at the Amex making a further six substitute appearances at time of writing. His three goals for the club have come from 17 appearances in all competitions. Aaron still certainly has improvements to make and large parts of his game to develop as his whoscored rating of 6.40 shows. Despite this the talent is there for an international regular. Developing his game in the Premier League will boost his progression.

Idah, Parrott, Obafemi and Connolly.
Picture: SkySports.com

Jason Knight has secured a place in the Derby County lineup in the Championship recently. He has averaged a rating of 7.6 over his past four appearances and picked up two man-of-the-match awards. His brace against Charlton was a match winning contribution. Wayne Rooney has recently joined the competition for midfield places but Knight will be confident of more game time. Whoscored spots a couple of weaknesses in his game but also garner him with 'very strong' strengths of through balls and defensive contribution. His 'strong' trait of long shots means he can make an impact on both sides of the pitch. Ten starts from 17 appearances at the age of 18 means he will be one to keep an eye on.

Keeping the goals out could well come down to Bournemouth keeper Mark Travers. The 20-year-old has not had the best of seasons playing his only league game in the 3-0 home defeat to Watford with a rating of 4.95. He has two clean sheets in cup competitions but it was his showing against Tottenham at the back of end last season that made me believe he would be Bournemouth number one this season. A loan move could boost his chances of becoming Ireland number one. I haven't been overly impressed with Kelleher at Liverpool so far but the two are ones to watch in the future. Backed up by the likes of John Egan (6.90), Shane Duffy (6.75) and Enda Stevens (6.96) for the near future, continuing a solid defensive line looks achievable.

Former Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny is set to take over the reins from Mick McCarthy after Euro 2020. The current under 21s boss is in the perfect position to run the rule over this current crop and that will stand him in good stead when he takes over the job, similar to Gareth Southgate when he took over the England hot seat. If results for the side since Kenny took over are anything to go by - we are on the way up. COYBIG.

The country is in good hands - Mick McCarthy and Stephen Kenny.
Picture: thetimes.co.uk

Is there an Irish talent out there that has caught your eye? Who could be lining up in the famous green jersey in the near future? Drop a comment ↓ or get in touch through social media.



It is impossible to predict the future but let's start 2020 off with a bit of positivity to help quash the dark clouds around the Irish game at the moment.