It may be the close season, but there are still international matches taking place and fans’ thoughts are already turning to their betting options for the upcoming season. Though it may not be the first thing fans of Ireland team think of, the fallout from the top leagues in Europe, particularly in England will have a huge effect on those options, as well as the team and their prospects for forthcoming tournaments.
How a player’s respective club performs is crucial to how those players will develop, how much gametime they get, and how they are subsequently able to improve. It is far better to be playing regularly at a top half Championship club than to be warming the bench at an EPL one.
There may well be lessons to be learned from other footballing nations on how to produce, spot and nurture talent at grass roots level. The fact of the matter is, however, any player who will help propel Ireland up the FIFA rankings and qualifying for tournaments will need to be playing in the Championship or the EPL, or their equivalent on the continent. The expansion of those tournaments is no doubt a plus, but the players and the management need to play their part to take full advantage of it.
Of the players in the current Ireland squad, only one suffered relegation last season with Southampton. Glovesman Gavin Bazuna had established himself as a regular between the sticks, notching up 32 league appearances. But he was dropped for the last 6 games, though he should still be Number 1 at Southampton next season.
There are two players whose clubs experienced the other side of the coin. John Egan was a permanent feature at the back for Sheffield United, and it was a similar story for Josh Cullen in midfield for Burnley, who not only picked up a promotion on his CV but was their player of the year. Despite their clubs EPL status, it would be a surprise if both players don’t feature heavily next season.
Two players who will have the most stressful summer are Wigan Athletic’s James McClean and Jamie McGrath. Wigan have been handed a winding up order by HMRC, and even if the club does have a future, both players will be looking at League One if they don’t move.
One player who certainly looks like he will be plying his trade at a higher level than the English third tier is Jack Taylor. The dynamic central midfielder’s Peterborough United were on the wrong end of one of the most remarkable turnarounds in play-off history as they spurned a 4 – 0 first leg victory, losing 5 – 1 at Sheffield Wednesday.
Taylor has been interesting several clubs in the Championship, and though POSH director of football Barry Fry has slapped a €12 million price tag on the 24 year old, it is likely they will settle for less than that, with the club known not to be on the surest of financial footings.
There are a handful of players whose clubs were earmarked for relegation from the EPL but survived. Mark travers’ Bournemouth looked certain for the drop but in the end survived with games to spare. Wolves were another club that flirted with relegation, but centre back Nathan Collins will be hopeful they can push on, and can firmly establish his place at the West Midlands outfit.
Caoimhín Kelleher isn’t going to usurp Alisson and he will either be sold or put out on loan. Talking of loans it will be interesting to see where centre forward Troy Parrott spends next season. His loan spell at Preston North End, where he scored 3 times in his 32 appearances doesn’t tell the whole story, but it is unlikely he will be able to break into the first team at Spurs any time soon, and may see his future at a Championship club.
The summer may well see several of the players changing clubs, but whatever happens, you can follow the progress of the players, and of the national team itself on our forum.
front pic Aviva Stadium, photo by Susan Patterson