Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has announced his 24-man squad for the upcoming 2024 European Championship qualifying matches against Greece and Gibraltar.
With three Group B fixtures left, the Boys in Green have probably forfeited the last chance of reigniting their qualification hopes with a 2-1 home loss to the Netherlands in their previous outing.
Stranded a significant six points adrift of the second-placed Dutch, who also boast a game in hand, Ireland’s bid to reach the Euro finals for just the fourth time seems already dead in the water.
Not only do Kenny’s men need to win all nine remaining points, but they also must hope the Netherlands and Greece could stumble on multiple occasions, which looks like a pipe dream.
Ireland will miss several first-team stars during October’s international break.
Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher, Sheffield United defender John Egan and Cardiff City winger Callum O’Dowda are ruled out injured.
But the inclusion of the two Celtic stars could help.
Versatile defender Liam Scales returns to the national team after being omitted during September’s international window.
After missing out on the opening two Scottish Premiership games, the 25-year-old has established himself as a regular starter under Brendan Rodgers.
Scales has been a prominent figure of Celtic’s water-tight backline that has only capitulated once in their last five league matches, enhancing his prospects of making his international debut.
His club teammate Mikey Johnston has unexpectedly received a call-up.
Despite tumbling down the pecking order this season, the 24-year-old winger is set for his international return after Kenny left him out of his Ireland’s squad in September.
Johnston has yet to make a single competitive appearance for Celtic in 2023/24.
He remained on the bench as Rodgers’ troops slipped to a 2-1 home loss to Lazio in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Celtic duo will hope to follow in the footsteps of their senior Hoops colleague James McCarthy, who was an always-present figure for Ireland before announcing his international retirement in 2020.
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