Belfast Telegraph

Eunan O'Kane will be happy to answer Martin O'Neill's call for Republic of Ireland

By Steven Beacom

Former Coleraine midfielder Eunan O'Kane has enjoyed a memorable week. On Monday night he made his first Premier League start for Bournemouth against Liverpool at Anfield and yesterday he was called into the Republic of Ireland senior squad for the first time.

The 25-year-old was part of a provisional squad of 37 named by Republic boss Martin O'Neill ahead of next month's crucial Euro 2016 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia.

Five years ago, O'Kane was earning rave reviews as a Coleraine player in the Irish League and since then he has gradually been on the up and up, first at Torquay and more recently with Bournemouth, who he helped into the top flight last season.

O'Kane, from Londonderry, represented Northern Ireland at youth level before deciding to switch allegiance to the Republic in 2011. He has made Under-21 appearances for them but not one to date for the full team.

In a charity game in May, Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill joked with O'Kane about switching back to no avail. Now the other O'Neill has given him what was an unexpected boost.

"I wasn't expecting the call. Monday was my first league start in 11 months so to presume I'd be in the squad would be a bit much," said O'Kane.

The Republic, waiting on a decision from Aston Villa's Jack Grealish about whether he'll declare for them or England, are in fourth in their Euro group behind Poland, Germany and Scotland.

Squad: David Forde (Millwall), Shay Given (Stoke), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph ( West Ham), Rob Elliot (Newcastle), Richard Keogh (Derby), Marc Wilson (Stoke), Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Derby), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Alex Pearce (Derby), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), Paul McShane (Reading), James McCarthy (Everton), Jeff Hendrick (Derby), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Greg Cunningham (Preston), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Eunan O'Kane (Bournemouth), Aiden McGeady (Everton), James McClean (West Brom), Alan Judge (Brentford), Robbie Brady (Norwich), Anthony Pilkington (Cardiff), Stephen Quinn (Reading), David Meyler (Hull), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Shane Long (Southampton), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich), Jon Walters (Stoke), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), Anthony Stokes (Celtic), David McGoldrick (Ipswich), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen), Simon Cox (Reading).

Belfast Telegraph