Robbie Brady and Ciaran Clark have been included in the finalised squad for the Republic of Ireland’s clashes with New Zealand and Denmark.
The pair, along with U21 internationals Troy Parrott and Lee O’Connor, could get a chance in Thursday’s friendly against the Kiwis in Dublin as manager Mick McCarthy assesses his options for the decisive Euro 2020 qualifier showdown with Denmark four days later.
Both Burnley midfielder Brady and Newcastle defender Clark have returned to Premier League action in recent weeks and will hope to play a part against the Danes on a night when victory would almost guarantee the Republic of Ireland’s place at next summer’s finals.
McCarthy said: “Robbie was left out last month simply because he had only played three minutes in the Premier League all season when I named the squad.
“He is back involved with the Burnley first team now and getting game time and his involvement is a real boost to us ahead of the match against Denmark because of the quality he brings to the team.
“I will give Robbie time against New Zealand to get ready for Denmark. He is one of the players in the squad who will really benefit from the New Zealand game before we play the Danes.
“Ciaran is in the same boat. He had to get back with Newcastle before he could back with us, but he is playing well for them now and I was impressed with him against West Ham last Saturday.”
Both men have been included in a whittled down party of 28, while Tottenham striker Parrott earns a first senior call-up and O’Connor, who is suspended for the U21s’ trip to Armenia, will return to Stephen Kenny’s squad for their home qualifier against Sweden.
McCarthy added “With Lee suspended for the first of the two U21 matches, this is the perfect opportunity to have a look at him in the friendly, introduce him to senior international football and see how he gets on. I’ve been impressed with him for the 21s and I know how important he is to them for that Sweden game so this is a win-win for all concerned.
“Likewise, Troy Parrott is in the squad for the first time and he will feature against New Zealand next Thursday. All he has to do is look at how well Aaron Connolly did last time in Georgia and Switzerland to see the opportunity that is there for him now.”
But it is perhaps the presence of Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick, who missed last month’s 0-0 draw in Georgia and 2-0 defeat in Switzerland through injury, which has provided McCarthy with the biggest boost.
He said: “David’s return is the big bonus for all of us. Everyone knows how well he has done for us in the European Championship games he has played this year, and he has been brilliant for his club in recent weeks.”
Darren Randolph, Matt Doherty and Glenn Whelan have all been included as they work their way back from injury, but Crystal Palace midfielder James McCarthy has asked to stay with his club for personal reasons.
Randolph (Middlesbrough), O’Hara (Burton), Travers (Bournemouth), Doherty (Wolves), Duffy (Brighton), Long (Burnley), Egan (Sheffield United), Clark (Newcastle), Stevens (Sheffield United), Williams (Blackburn), O’Connor (Celtic), Browne (Preston), Cullen (Charlton), Hendrick (Burnley), O’Dowda (Bristol City), Whelan (Hearts), Hourihane (Aston Villa), McClean (Stoke), Byrne (Shamrock Rovers), Brady (Burnley), Robinson (Sheffield United), Parrott (Tottenham), Connolly (Brighton), McGoldrick (Sheffield United), Collins (Luton), Hogan (Stoke), Maguire (Preston), Judge (Ipswich)