New Republic of Ireland manager, Stephen Kenny, is surprised Sheffield United defender John Egan hasn’t played more for his country.
Kenny was due to replace Mick McCarthy following the conclusion of the Euro 2020 campaign. Yet the competition has been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It means that qualifying for the 2022 World Cup will now begin next March – before the tournament has taken place. Therefore the FAI made the decision to bring forward Kenny’s succession of McCarthy.
BBC Sport reports that the Republic’s European Championship playoff semi-final with Slovakia – and possible final with Bosnia and Herzegovina – will now take place in late October or early November.
The Nations League is also scheduled to begin in September, so Kenny’s first priority is preparing for those games. And Egan is likely to play a big part.
How has the Sheffield United ace not played more for Republic of Ireland?
What is clear is that Egan is set to have a key role under Kenny. The 48-year-old appears to be critical of predecessors McCarthy and Martin O’Neill in their lack of use of the centre-back.
Egan will turn 28 in October, but has only played eight times for his country to date. Egan made his debut under O’Neill in March 2017 and played in another international friendly in June of that year.
Yet the 27-year-old wasn’t selected again until McCarthy became manager in November 2018 and then didn’t get picked in a qualifying match until October last year.
Egan has now started four of the Republic’s last five games and should continue making up for lost time under Kenny.
“The addition of John Egan altered the dynamic. Rather than having a pair of traditional No.5s, it completely changes everything about how you play. That gives a great platform to build the rest, like having raiding full-backs,” the new boss told the Irish Examiner.
“It’s hard to fathom how John has so few competitive caps because, when Sheffield United signed him for £4m (in July 2018), in my eyes he was probably ready then for our first-team.”