Itâ€™s back to domestic football for our players after the highs of Euro 2016
A number of our players who featured prominently in Euro 16 are expecting regular action in the Premier League this season!
The most high profile of the bunch may be Darren Randolph, not because heâ€™s necessarily the best of the Irish players in the EPL but because he may be in the best position to succeed. Randolph will compete with Adrian for the starting keeper position at West Ham, but whoever gets the nod will have a chance to impact the Premier League race. Tipstersâ€™ early odds on the EPL have the usual suspect tabbed as favourites (Man City, Man Utd., and Chelsea in that order), but West Ham has the eighth best odds of winning the league. Thatâ€™s actually the best position of any club featuring an Irish national team player, and it means Randolph could end up being one of the more visible Irish players in the EPL this season.
Just beneath West Ham in the oddsmakersâ€™ pecking order is Everton, which will feature two players from the Irish team that went to France for Euro 2016. James McCarthy (who incidentally was terrific against France in the round of 16 but was terrible against Sweden) will hopefully be a key part of the Everton midfield after signing a new five-year deal last August. Although, his status is a little bit unclear as he recovers from a knee injury sustained in training. McCarthyâ€™s form dipped under Martinez, so it remains unclear how new manager Ronald Koeman will see him in his new look Everton team. If all goes well, heâ€™ll make a regular impact for a competitive side this coming season.
Joining McCarthy at Everton is Seamus Coleman. He wrapped up the Euroâ€™s in fine fashion and looks a certainty to remain as Ireland captain for the World Cup qualifyers. While McCarthyâ€™s role under Koeman is under doubt, Coleman should see an improvement as Koeman is a far better manager defensively than Roberto Martinez is. If Colenma is given licence to roam forward with a steady defense he could have a brilliant season.
Despite failing to score in Euro 2016, Long will once again be key of Southamptonâ€™s attack. After 13 goals in 2015/16, which helped Southampton to overachieve in some peopleâ€™s minds, Long signed a four-year extension that will keep him at St. Maryâ€™s until 2020. That should allow him to settle in and fully dedicate himself, a good season beckons.
Toward the bottom of the league (or at least what we expect the bottom to look like), a trio of players should see a lot of the action in 2016/17. He should compete for a starting role at Sunderland. Meanwhile, James McClean will look to get more comfortable in his second season with West Brom and Stephen Ward will get the chance to feature in defence for Burnley as they try to establish themselves back in the Premier League and avoid a quick relegation. Will we be seeing Robbie Brady again? Depending on which club buys him, he could be our best player across the water next season.
By Colm Nally