With Martin O’Neill announcing his squad for the upcoming International friendlies with Switzerland and Slovakia on Friday March 11th, again there is the normal chat about the possibility of some League of Ireland players being drafted into the squad.
In theory these are ‘nothing’ friendlies but also it is a massive chance for fringe players to stamp their name in the heads of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane and push for a seat on the plan top France in June, which doesn’t help the leagues push for player inclusion to be honest.
We all have to be realistic with this vision of League of Ireland players being involved in the International team, with the massive level increase & especially right before a major championship but shouldn’t there be some connection with the league and the international set up?
In 2013, Noel King had 5 League of Ireland players involved in the squad for the Germany fixture but only on a basis of assisting with the 11 v 11 tactical sessions.
Players involved were Richie Towell, Kurtis Byrne, John Sullivan, David Elebert & Andy Boyle.
This inclusion would only have benefited these players on a confidence and experience level and gives the league representation on some level internationally.
It is a tough situation for the FAI and the management team as I am sure they would love nothing more than to have high representation from the national leagues but the sad reality is that minus a few cases there just is not the talent available that would benefit the team.
Examples of players that started in the League of Ireland (Doyle, Long, McLean) are there to be seen but they moved to England before any chance was given to them Internationally.
The question is, should there be a guaranteed additional 3 – 5 spots on top of every squad for League of Ireland players to build experience?
Should one of the 3 goalkeepers have to be chosen from the League of Ireland?
It would be great to build some inclusion plans but I think the reality is that nothing of its kind will happen in the near or far future.