Michael Obafemi in line to make his senior Ireland debut as squad cut for Northern Ireland and Denmark games

Tue, Nov 13 2018

The Ireland XI that faced Denmark in a 0-0 draw at the Aviva Stadium in October. Credit: Brian F Smyth

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

*Indicates the player will only train with the squad