Monday, December 4, 2023

Johnston named in Ireland squad for the first time

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Mikey Johnston has been named in the Republic of Ireland’s squad for the upcoming games against Latvia and France, just over a week after receiving FIFA international clearance to represent the Boys in Green.

The 23-year-old Glasgow-born Celtic winger is currently on loan at Portuguese Primeira Liga side Vitoria Guimaraes. He qualifies to play for Ireland through his grandfather, who was from Derry.

Kenny has previously talked up Johnston’s “exciting” attributes – he looks very likely to make his debut in the friendly against the Latvians at the Aviva Stadium next Wednesday. Ireland will then open their Euro 2024 qualification campaign against beaten World Cup finalists France in Dublin on Monday, 27 March.

There had been debate around Shane Duffy’s chances of making the squad given his struggles to break into the Fulham team, but a calf injury has ruled him out regardless, while Enda Stevens is also absent due to a muscle problem.

Conor Hourihane, Robbie Brady and Swansea City’s in-form wing-back Ryan Manning have all been overlooked.

Despite picking up a knock in Norwich City’s draw at with Huddersfield on Wednesday night, Adam Idah (above) is included alongside clubmate Andrew Omobamidele, with the duo looking for their first minutes in Green since November 2021.

Kenny revealed that Idah will have a scan on Friday to determine the extent of any damage done and he may have to drop out over the weekend if the prognosis is not good. He’s currently on crutches.

Having both missed the November window through injury, midfielder Jason Knight and striker Will Keane are amongst the 26 players named. Fellow attacker Callum Robinson had already been ruled out last month after picking up a hamstring injury.

Teenage striker Evan Ferguson looks nailed on to earn his first start for Ireland either against Latvia or the French, with his former Under-21 team-mate Will Smallbone rewarded with a call-up for his eye-catching displays at Stoke City.

Kylian Mbappe will spearhead French attack in Dublin

The Boys in Green were given a difficult task to secure automatic qualification for the Euros in Germany next year, taking on giants the Netherlands and World Cup finalists France.

Les Bleus will come to Dublin on Monday week after a clash with the Dutch in Paris three days earlier.

Didier Deschamps has lost retired trio Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema but such is the embarrassment of riches he has at his disposal, the impact of their departures is not exactly seismic.

Olivier Giroud is included after concerns over his fitness, with elite attacking weapons Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Randal Kolo Muani and Marcus Thuram all available to Deschamps.

Republic of Ireland Squad for Latvia and France

Goalkeepers: Gavin Bazunu (Southampton), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth)

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Atletico Madrid), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City), Nathan Collins (Wolverhampton Wanderers), John Egan (Sheffield United), Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Callum O’Dowda (Cardiff City), James McClean (Wigan Athletic)

Midfielders: Josh Cullen (Burnley), Jayson Molumby (West Bromwich Albion), Jeff Hendrick (Reading), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Jason Knight (Derby County), Will Smallbone (Stoke City, on loan from Southampton), Jamie McGrath (Dundee United), Mark Sykes (Bristol City)

Forwards: Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham United), Michael Obafemi (Burnley), Evan Ferguson (Brighton and Hove Albion), Adam Idah (Norwich City), Troy Parrott (Preston North End, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Will Keane (Wigan Athletic), Mikey Johnston (Vitoria, on loan from Celtic)

France squad for Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham United), Mike Maignan (AC Milan), Brice Samba (Lens)

Defenders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Wesley Fofana (Chelsea), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich)

Midfielders: Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Khephren Thuram (Nice), Jordan Veretout (Marseille)

Forwards: Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

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