Tom Cannon included as John O’Shea names Ireland squad for upcoming friendlies

Ferguson, Collins, Bazunu and Ogbene out of the squad, but Parrott, Szmodics and Idah feature as firepower

Leicester City striker Tom Cannon has declared for the Republic of Ireland. The 21-year-old has been included in a 26-man squad selected by interim manager John O’Shea for friendlies against Hungary on June 4th at the Aviva Stadium and away to Portugal on June 11th.

Cannon, who was born in England, previously pulled out of an Irish under-21 squad and senior training camp under former manager Stephen Kenny, following interest from the English FA.

“I spoke to Tom a couple of times,” said O’Shea, speaking during the squad announcement at Sky headquarters in Dublin. “I tried to get him in for March window if possible.

“Seeing Tom with the under 21s, I know what a talent he is, what type of striker he is. I spoke to him and his agent [Kenny Moyes] as well and said: ‘Take your time, and when you are ready just get back in touch with me.’

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“Thankfully they did and we were able to have another conversation. He was with his family when I spoke to him and they were very proud and very happy to be committing to the Republic of Ireland.”

Cannon needs to play three games for the Ireland under-21s or seniors to be considered ineligible for England. Declan Rice is the last player to be capped for Ireland before changing his mind and committing to Gareth Southgate’s English set-up.

“I can only take a person at the conversation we had,” said O’Shea. “He’s looking forward to it and excited to come in for these two games. Let’s wait and see, I’m sure it will be the case that he will be committed.”

Evan Ferguson, John Egan, Nathan Collins and Gavin Bazunu have been ruled out of the June international window with injury while Chiedozie Ogbene is unavailable due to family reasons.

Festy Ebosele has some “physical issues,” O’Shea revealed, after a full Serie A campaign with Udinese, while Alan Browne is out of contract at Preston North End, so it was agreed that 29 year old midfielder would focus on his club career instead of linking up with Ireland.

“Alan Browne is out of contract at the minute. It is a tough one for Alan. I have a lot of admiration for Alan. This is his last major contract as such.

“If there was qualifying games Alan would have been involved, that’s for sure. He is concentrating on, as you would do in your career, you make sure there are no more risks. I totally understand it. I was hoping he could sort something beforehand but it wasn’t to be. He will have to sit these ones out but that is a chance for someone else.”

Troy Parrott is named among five forwards, which includes inform Blackburn Rovers attacker Sammie Szmodics and Adam Idah, who scored the winner for Celtic against Rangers in last Saturday’s Scottish cup final.

Parrott, however, will struggle to be available for the Hungary game next Tuesday as his loan club Excelsior play NAC Breda in the Dutch relegation play-off second leg on Sunday.

Mark Travers and Josh Cullen are both getting married to their partners before the squad meets up on Thursday.

Andy Moran, Barnet goalkeeper Josh Keeley and Celtic midfielder Bosun Lawal will train with the group before joining Jim Crawford’s Ireland under-21s for friendlies against Croatia and England.

O’Shea did confirm that Lyon centre half Jake O’Brien will make his debut next month after going uncapped in March against Belgium and Switzerland.

Republic of Ireland Squad – Hungary/Portugal

Goalkeepers: Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth), Max O’Leary (Bristol City), David Harrington (Fleetwood Town)

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Shane Duffy (Norwich City), Dara O’Shea (Burnley), Jake O’Brien (Lyon), Andrew Omobamidele (Nottingham Forest), Liam Scales (Celtic), Robbie Brady (Preston North End), Enda Stevens (Stoke City).

Midfielders: Josh Cullen (Burnley), Finn Azaz (Middlesbrough), Jason Knight (Bristol City), Jamie McGrath (Aberdeen), Callum O’Dowda (Cardiff City), Will Smallbone (Southampton), Mark Sykes (Bristol City), Mikey Johnston (West Bromwich Albion, on loan from Celtic).

Forwards: Sammie Szmodics (Blackburn Rovers), Adam Idah (Celtic, on loan from Norwich City), Troy Parrott (Excelsior, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Michael Obafemi (Millwall, on loan from Burnley), Tom Cannon (Leicester City).

Fixtures – International Friendlies

04/06 – Republic of Ireland v Hungary, Aviva Stadium, 7.45pm

11/06 – Portugal v Republic of Ireland, Aveiro Municipal Stadium, 7.45pm

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent