Preston’s Alan Browne a late call up to Ireland squad

Cork-born midfielder joins panel for games against Mexico, Uruguay and Austria

Martin O'Neill has added Preston North End midfielder Alan Browne to the initial Republic of Ireland squad for the games against Mexico, Uruguay and Austria with the first of the players due to meet up this morning at Fota Island for three days of training.

Browne had been overlooked despite a good season at Deepdale where the presence of first Aiden McGeady and Greg Cunningham then Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle had ensured that members of the Irish management team would be swinging by.

The 22-year-old Corkman, who started out at Ringmahon Rangers and had a stint at Cork City before heading to England in 2014 now joins up with the senior squad for the first time at the end of a season in which he made 35 first team appearances for the Championship side, all but four of them in the league.

He had previously played an important part in the club’s promotion from League One a couple of years ago, helping to anchor the midfield, and has made steady progress since. O’Neill will get to take a closer look at him this week but the expectation is that he will travel to America for the game against Mexico and stay around afterwards for the matches against Uruguay and Austria.

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Liam Brady has expressed confidence that Ireland can beat the Austrians in the World Cup qualifier next month and go on to battle Serbia for top spot in the group.

"They [the Austrians] have their problems as well," he said at the announcement of the friendly game between Manchester United and his former club Sampdoria in Dublin. "Arnautovic is suspended and he's their best player. It's a pity [O'Neill has the injury problems to contend with] as this is the defining game. If we beat them, they're out of it. It looks to me then it's between ourselves and Serbia to qualify as top of the group.

“But I think we’re in a great position to beat Austria even with all our injury problems. Martin has almost managed to overcome these problems with injuries, whether it’s giving the youngsters a chance or when they’re not around, putting the old boys back in, like John O’Shea. This campaign has been very impressive.

“He has not got a great deal to work with but I don’t think James McCarthy will be a great loss, I’m not his greatest fan. Coleman is a loss, Shane Long’s pace too is a loss.”

Washing machine

Brady says that he has “the fondest memories” of the Serie A side where he played well for two seasons and prompted Inter Milan to come in for him. He also revealed, however, that he had come close to joining United in his youth.

"I nearly went to Manchester United as a kid," he said. "The reason I didn't go was because Arsenal got in before them. The scout here in Ireland was a guy called Billy Behan. Because I was a Manchester United fan he thought I was nailed on. Then I went to London and Arsenal liked me and they looked after me.

“Manchester United actually offered my mother a washing machine for me to go there. But my mind was made up and a washing machine wasn’t going to change it.”

The thought of it was enough for her to try to change it, though, he admitted. “She actually did,” he said with a laugh. “Now a kid gets a house and a car and his father gets a job for life.”

The Dubliner clearly retains a huge soft spot for the London club where he made his name and for the manager he worked with on his return to oversee the academy and will be rooting for them both in next weekend's FA Cup final against Chelsea. The occasion is not, he admits, what it once was but the potential for Arsenal to set new records still marks it out as a big day for Arséne Wenger, his players and the fans.

“It’s not got the same meaning as it used to have,” he says. “To win the cup in my day, you would be remembered forever. The fans would remember a cup-winning team. I think Newcastle, the last time they won a Cup was in the 50s and they still talk about that team.

“Now, I don’t think the cup has that importance anymore although on Saturday it will. Chelsea will want to do the double, which would be a tremendous feat. That alone will make it huge. And Arsenal, if we win, the season won’t look as bad as it does now. If we can win it, Wenger will become the manager that has won the cup the most times ever. Arsenal will become the club which has won the cup the most times ever. So it’s a huge match in that respect.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Industry and Employment Correspondent at The Irish Times