Young guns Caoimhin Kelleher and Jimmy Dunne earn Ireland call-ups

Manning and Obafemi the other new players included in O’Neill’s 36-man squad

Four new players are included in Martin O'Neill's extended squad with young Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher as well defender Jimmy Dunne, midfielder Ryan Manning and Southampton striker Michael Obafemi all making an initial list of 36 which, the manager says, will be "trimmed," closer to the time.

Dunne, a 21 year-old defender who is currently on loan from Burnley to Hearts, described the call up as "a very proud achievement", and though O'Neill suggested that a couple of players would be given opportunities to play in the friendly against Northern Ireland, he acknowledged that the intention had also been to "give lifts" to some of younger players still trying to establish themselves in their club careers.

Glenn Whelan has been recalled for the friendly which, O'Neill says, which will effectively serve as his send-off. The Dubliner, who played more than 80 times for Ireland after Giovanni Trapattoni brought him into the side a decade ago, will be captain against Northern Ireland. "He has been excellent during his time here, certainly during my time," said O'Neill. "He will lead the team out and play some time."


Robbie Brady returns to the squad for the first time since he played against Denmark in the two play-off games last year but Stephen Ward (knee) and Jon Walters (Achilles) are both absent.

Ireland could still avoid last place in their Nations League group by beating Denmark away but it would require Wales to also beat the Danes in Cardiff three days earlier.

Failing that, O’Neill’s side will be relegated to League C and, more immediately, consigned to Pot Three when the draw is made for the group stages of the European Championship qualifying round early next month.

Like everything else, when we knew what the rules were going to be we hoped that we might win (the group),” he said. “It hasn’t worked out that way for us but if we end up being third seeds then so be it, that’s the nature of it; we were fourth seeds in the draw in the world cup, the games are hard but we can overcome that.”

Provisional squad: Randolph (Middlesbrough), Doyle (Hearts), Kelleher (Liverpool), McDermott (Kristiansund); Coleman (Everton), Christie (Fulham), Doherty (Wolves), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Duffy (Brighton), Clark (Newcastle United), Long (Burnley), Dunne (Hearts), Egan and Enda Stevens (both Sheffield United), Lenihan and Williams (both Blackburn Rovers), Cunningham (Cardiff City; Brady and Hendrick (Burnley), Arter (Cardiff City), Hourihane and Whelan (both Aston Villa), Meyler (Reading), Browne (Preston), Williams (Millwall), Towell and Manning (both Rotherham United), O'Dowda (Bristol City), McClean (Stoke City); Long and Obafemi (Southampton), Hogan (Aston Villa), Maguire and Robinson (both Preston), O'Brien (Millwall), Curtis (Portsmouth).