Football | Bazunu called up to Ireland squad for Serbia clash
Gavin Bazunu has been called up to the Republic of Ireland squad for the first time for next week's 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Serbia and Luxembourg.
The Manchester City goalkeeper, who is on loan at Rochdale, joins fellow shot stoppers Caoimhin Kelleher, Mark Travers and Kieran O'Hara in Stephen Kenny's 29-man squad. Darren Randolph misses out through injury. However, Kelleher will be further assessed on Sunday due to an abdominal injury.
"There is a bit of uncertainty (regarding goalkeepers), I’d agree with that," Kenny said.
"Caoimhin has an abdominal tear but we have until next Wednesday to the game. We will meet up in Manchester on Sunday and we will assess him. We will see how his rehab goes between now and then.
"I can see why people would be concerned at the lack of experience, I understand that. In the seven competitive games that Darren has played, we've just conceded four goals. I think he's played 38 consecutive games, in terms of competitive games, so he's been a very consistent player for Ireland.
"Caoimhin has obviously played ten U21 internationals under me and he was brilliant, did very well. I think he's played five games for Liverpool this year too in the Champions League, so he's used to big games and it won’t be an issue for him.
"Mark Travers is definitely the next one in, and Mark has obviously played for Ireland already, made his debut and has played some important games for Bournemouth and had a recent spell at Swindon.
"Gavin has been brilliant, he's a brilliant young prospect, and Kieran, who has been in the squad before, so that's where we are at the moment, they're the best goalkeepers that we have."
Spurs forward Troy Parrott (on loan at Milwall) has also been included in the squad, joining Callum Robinson, Aaron Connolly, Shane Long and James Collins as Ireland's striking options.
Robbie Brady, James McClean, Daryl Horgan, Ronan Curtis and Callum O'Dowda provide the Boys in Green with wide options, while Conor Hourihane, Alan Browne, Jeff Hendrick, Josh Cullen, Jayson Molumby and Jason Knight will compete for the midfield places.
Captain Seamus Coleman, Matt Doherty, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, Ciaran Clark, Dara O'Shea, Enda Stevens, Ryan Manning and Cyrus Christie have been chosen as Kenny's defenders.
The Boys in Green face Serbia at Stadion Rajko Mitić in Belgrade on March 24th, before hosting Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium three days later. Kenny's men will then see out the international break with a friendly against Qatar at Nagyerdei Stadion in Debrecen, Hungary on March 30th.
Goalkeepers: Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Gavin Bazunu (Rochdale, on loan from Manchester City), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth), Kieran O'Hara (Burton Albion).
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Shane Duffy (Celtic, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United), Kevin Long (Burnley), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Dara O'Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Ryan Manning (Swansea City), Cyrus Christie (Nottingham Forest).
Midfielders: Conor Hourihane (Swansea City, on loan from Aston Villa), Alan Browne (Preston North End), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle United), Jayson Molumby (Preston North End, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Jason Knight (Derby County), Josh Cullen (Anderlecht).
Wingers: Robbie Brady (Burnley), James McClean (Stoke City), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City).
Strikers: Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Shane Long (AFC Bournemouth, on loan from Southampton), James Collins (Luton Town), Troy Parrott (Ipswich Town, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur).
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