Football | Four new faces in Ireland squad
Stephen Kenny has named four new faces in the Republic of Ireland squad to take on Andorra and Hungary next month.
Shamrock Rovers midfielder Danny Mandroiu, St. Mirren playmaker Jamie McGrath, Rotherham winger Chiedozie Ogbene and Norwich City defender Andrew Omobamidele have been called up to Ireland's 27-man squad.
The Boys in Green will take on Andorra at the Estadi Johan Cruyff in Barcelona on the third of June, before travelling to Budapest to take on Hungary five days later.
Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Alan Browne, Jack Byrne, Enda Stevens, Kevin Long and Callum O'Dowda all miss out on the squad through injury. "Jamie McGrath has been a gradual improver," Kenny said, in quotes reported by RTÉ Sport.
"He is technically excellent, very good feet, good right and left foot, and works hard. He is a very creative player and a different type of player to the midfield players that we have."
Interestingly, Kenny brought Meath native McGrath to Dundalk from St. Patrick's Athletic, and also managed the 24-year-old while in charge of the Ireland U21 side.
McGrath has enjoyed a stellar season for St. Mirren, notching 17 goals in all competitions and winning the Scottish club's player of the year award.
Kenny says Mandroiu, who is the League of Ireland's sole representative in the squad, has improved both physically and mentally with age.
"Danny Mandroiu is in the squad because he has very high technical ability. He is an incredibly creative passer capable of scoring goals from outside the box. He has become a more mature player than he was at Brighton at a young age, he has gone back and played at Bohemian FC and Shamrock Rovers. He has got himself in a better place physically and mentally, and is a more mature individual. He is still only 22."
Kenny also heaped praise on former Limerick winger Ogbene.
"And Chiedozie Ogbene, having gone from Limerick to England, has had a great season with Rotherham in League One. He is a very fast, powerful right winger and we don’t have that type of player in the squad."
Omobamidele has also enjoyed a fine campaign, tasting promotion to the Premier League with Championship title winners Norwich.
"Andrew Omobamidele (pictured above) has done terrific at Norwich over the last seven games, and he has accelerated into the senior squad more quickly than we anticipated," Kenny continued.
"He is 18 years of age but he has looked extremely composed and athletic. We saw him with the U17 team at the European Championships here, and then with the U19 team. He has gone into the Norwich team and has not looked out of place."
Omobamidele joins fellow defenders Seamus Coleman, John Egan, Shane Duffy, Dara O'Shea, Matt Doherty, Ryan Manning, Lee O'Connor and James McClean in the squad.
Caoimhin Kelleher and Gavin Bazunu will provide competition with Darren Randolph as Kenny's goalkeeping options. New faces Mandroiu and McGrath are named as midfield options alongside Jayson Molumby, Josh Cullen, Harry Arter, Conor Hourihane and Jason Knight.
Ogbene is included with Callum Robinson, Aaron Connolly, Troy Parrott, Adam Idah, James Collins, Daryl Horgan and Ronan Curtis as Kenny's attackers.
Republic of Ireland squad
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (West Ham United), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Gavin Bazunu (Rochdale, on loan from Manchester City)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Lee O'Connor (Tranmere Rovers, on loan from Celtic), James McClean (Stoke City), Ryan Manning (Swansea City), Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion), Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion), John Egan (Sheffield United), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City).
Midfielders: Josh Cullen (Anderlecht), Conor Hourihane (Swansea City, on loan from Aston Villa), Harry Arter (Nottingham Forest), Jason Knight (Derby County), Jayson Molumby (Preston North End, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Jamie McGrath (St Mirren), Daniel Mandroiu (Shamrock Rovers).
Forwards: Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion), James Collins (Luton Town), Adam Idah (Norwich City), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Troy Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur), Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham United), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers).