Michael Obafemi is in line to make his senior international bow at some stage on Thursday after making the final squad for the games against Northern Ireland and Denmark.
The Southampton striker has recently broken into the Saints’ matchday squad, with two appearances off the bench in the last few weeks, and has been rewarded with a first call-up.
Obafemi was born in Dublin and grew up in England, while he’s also eligible to play for Nigeria, but he seems to have expressed his preference to represent his country of birth.
And he may benefit from the ankle injury picked up by clubmate Shane Long as Ireland prepare to host Michael O’Neill’s Northern Ireland in a friendly on Thursday.
Liverpool youngster Caoimhin Kelleher could also feature for the first time as he was retained as one of three goalkeepers in the final squad.
Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed that Glenn Whelan will captain the side on what is set to be his 85th and final appearance for his country.
The 34-year-old midfielder hasn’t formally announced his retirement but he hasn’t been called up since the World Cup play-off defeat to Denmark last November.
And the Aston Villa man will not travel on with the squad to Aarhus for the UEFA Nations League closer against the Danes on Sunday.
Robbie Brady also looks set to make his first international appearance since the Denmark play-offs after returning to action following a horrific leg break sustained in December.
Meanwhile, Ireland under-19 captain and Manchester United defender Lee O’Connor has been brought into the training squad but won’t be considered for selection.
Republic of Ireland squad to face Northern Ireland and Denmark:
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Colin Doyle, Caoimhin Kelleher.
Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie, Matt Doherty, Richard Keogh, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, John Egan, Darragh Lenihan, Lee O’Connor*, Enda Stevens.
Midfielders: Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane, Harry Arter, David Meyler, Shaun Williams, Alan Browne, Callum O’Dowda, James McClean.
Forwards: Scott Hogan, Sean Maguire, Callum Robinson, Aiden O’Brien, Ronan Curtis, Michael Obafemi.
AFCON 2019: Nigeria Draws Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi [Full Fixtures]
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been drawn against Guinea, Madagascar, and Burundi in Group B of the African Cup of Nations, Egypt 2019.
The Gernot Rohr lads will begin their campaign at the the championship they won in South Africa i. 2013 against Burundi in the group opener.
In other groups, host Egypt will battle DR Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe in Group A, former champions Senegal and Algeria will have Kenya and giant killers Tanzania to slug it with in Group C.
Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire South Africa and Namibia were drawn in Group D which tagged as the competition Group of Death.
North African champions, Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania and Angola are up for Group E qualifying tickets.
Cameroon will also have Ghana, Benin and Guinea-Bissau to contend with Group F of the tournament.
Give Me £500,000-A-Week And I’ll Snub Real Madrid —- Pogba Tells Man Utd
Manchester United are reportedly ready to open talks with Paul Pogba over a new contract, the UK Sun reports.
But the French midfielder is going to test Old Trafford chiefs desire to keep him, by demanding a total wage packet of £500,000-a-week.
It is believed Pogba wants parity as the club’s highest paid player with Alexis Sanchez, as the eye-watering deal handed to Sanchez 15 months ago, is coming back to bite executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward once again.
Sanchez’s huge contract has changed the game at United, especially given the struggles suffered by the South American since joining last January.
Pogba’s demands will be strengthened by public admissions from Real Madrid boss, Zinedine Zidane, that he would like his compatriot at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Pogba has two years left on his current £300,000-a-week deal, with a further 12-month option.
Special Olympics World Games 2019: Union Bank, Special Olympics Nigeria Welcome Team Nigeria
Union Bank, proud co-sponsors of Team Nigeria to the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, joined the Board and Members of Special Olympics (SO) Nigeria at a reception to welcome the team.
The 84-man delegationto the World Games was made up of 24 officials and 60 athletes who represented Nigeria in 8 sports categoriesincluding Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Football, Table-tennis, Volleyball, Swimming and Cycling, winning a total of 63 medals.
Speaking at thewelcome reception, Mrs. Ogochukwu Ekezie-Ekaidem, the Head of Corporate Communications and Marketing at Union Bank congratulated the athletes and commended their hard work, resilience and resolve. She also applauded the efforts anddedication of the officials who worked extensively withthe teams ahead of the competition.
According to her;
“Union Bank is proud of the longstanding relationship we have developed with Special Olympics Nigeria, a platform that is focused onthree areas we are passionate about – Talent development, Sports and Inclusion.
As an institution committed to enabling people succeed, we are inspired by the team’s performance at the recent World Games, a testament to their hard work, determination and resilience.”
Union Bank has been a consistent supporter of Special Olympics Nigeria and Sports in general. In 2015, the Bank sponsored Team Nigeria to the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. The Bank was also the official corporate sponsor of the Nigerian team to the last Olympic Games in Rio.
This partnership with Special Olympics Nigeria highlights Union Bank’s deep rooted support for inclusion and sports in Nigeria.