It's June. A long, draining season is over and those players not revving up for the European Championships are probably scanning the 'green list' to see where they can get some sun on their bones.

But this week presents a few Irishmen with a chance to stride forward from the fringes and represent their country.

Stephen Kenny is without several seasoned internationals for the friendlies against Andorra tomorrow and then Hungary on Tuesday, so expect to see some debutants.

We've picked out five players who can use this window to seriously stake a claim and put themselves in the reckoning for September's World Cup qualifiers.


Kenny took McGrath to Dundalk when the Meathman was a promising teenager at St Pat's so he's been tracking the attacking midfielder's progress for quite a while.

He was fantastic in the League of Ireland but the move to St Mirren in January 2020 has enabled McGrath to take his game to another level.

The 24-year-old scored 15 goals from the middle of the park in the 20/21 season, turning a lot of heads with his intelligence, composure and ability to make things happen.

Last month his club boss Jim Goodwin said it would take "an outrageous bid" for someone to prise him away from the Buddies, and make no mistake, several suitors are very interested.

This Ireland side is chronically short of goals - McGrath has has the potential to make them tick.


Still just 18, Omobamidele [pictured above with Adam Idah] has had a pretty incredible three months. He made his Canaries debut off the bench back in January but it was a superb display in April, when he was thrown in at the deep end away to Preston, that dramatically accelerated his progress.

Daniel Farke kept him in the team as they galloped to promotion; Jim Crawford handed Omobamidele his Ireland U21 debut against Wales; and then came the call from Kenny to inform him he was coming with the seniors to Spain.

He's a mature talent who looks like he has a great temperament with a strong ability to read the play. Ireland have some fine young centre-halves - Nathan Collins [currently injured] and Dara O'Shea to name just two - but Kenny might be tempted to pair Omobamidele with Shane Duffy or John Egan at some point to see how he fares.

So far, the Leixlip teenager has nailed every challenge he's been presented with.


The crazy hype surrounding Parrott has cooled after a mixed year.

Parrott had to get out of Spurs to chase first-team football when it became clear Jose Mourinho was not going to take a punt on the young Dubliner so the move to Millwall at the start of last season looked ideal.

It didn't work out as hoped. Parrott made 14 appearances in the Championship for the Lions but by the end of January he had departed, returning to Tottenham before being swiftly sent out on loan again, this time to League One Ipswich.

After a positive start, injuries disrupted the teenager's form though he had his moments there - including a nice goal against Fleetwood in the last game of the season.

Parrott was built up at such a young age that a spell away from the bright lights of the Premier League will probably do him no harm longer term but he needs to get his next move right if he's to fulfil his immense early potential. A bright showing in the green jersey would, obviously, be of benefit.


Ogbene has been a late bloomer. The strong-running winger's exciting performances for Cork City and Limerick led to him heading across the water to Brentford in 2018.

He crossed paths with fellow Corkonian John Egan when he was the Bees but Ogbene found it tough to break into the first team there, spending half a season on loan at Exeter before moving on to Rotherham.

He's kick-started his career again at the Millers with many fans left to ponder what might have been if Ogbene had not suffered a knee injury that decimated his campaign. Rotherham suffered the drop from the Championship this year, with Ogbene's five-month absence from October to March sorely felt.

Kenny likes the 24-year-old's pace and directness in wide areas, qualities suited to the manager's preferred 4-3-3 system.

Ireland have found themselves short on options for those positions over the last nine months; Ogbene - nursing a tight groin on Wednesday but expected to be okay to feature - has an opportunity to prove he's a capable option.


We're cheating here with a two-for-one deal but it is fair to say that both Kelleher and Bazunu are, at this point, in a straight battle to become the long-term successor to Darren Randolph.

Kelleher has developed nicely over the last two months and is now the de facto No 2 to Alisson Becker at Liverpool.

Bazunu went to Rochdale for a valuable season of first-team football. He was the sole bright spark from the miserable 1-0 loss to Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium, producing one incredible save on a night where he didn't put a foot wrong.

Last week Kenny said there's "genuine competition" between Randolph, Kelleher and Bazunu for the No 1 shirt. How he juggles his three contenders in the next two games could be telling.

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