Stephen Kenny would do well to look at including Shamrock Rovers striker Jack Byrne in his squad for the next international window, according to League of Ireland coaches Graham Gartland and Shane Keegan.
Byrne returned to the League of Ireland after a back injury saw him out for almost a full season. He joined Rovers in January, and took a few matches to get back in full wing.
However, he has quickly become of the best players in the League, creating a good number of opportunities and earning some of the highest assists and goals in the competition.
While he has not yet shown his best form against European opposition this season, Gartland and Keegan feel that Byrne needs to be in the conversation for a call up to Stephen Kenny's next squad.
Speaking on Football Saturday, former Dundalk boss Keegan suggested that it was not even a question of if Byrne would be back in the reckoning.
"For me, there is no argument," Keegan said. "I don't see how anybody could claim that he's not on a different level than any other player in the league.
"That is not in any way [disparaging the rest of the players in the league]. We have got some fantastic players in the league. We have some absolutely brilliant nine out of 10 players in this league.
"If the rest of our best are nine out of 10, well then Jack must be 11 out of 10. He's a step or two ahead of anybody else."
Keegan admitted that Byrne has had a slow start to his return to Ireland, he has found his best form and is close to his best ever performances for Rovers.
"He took a little bit of time to get going this time around, you could argue," Keegan said. "In recent games he's just been outstanding. He is just a class, class act. I love his creativity.
"I still think he needs to strike the balance a little bit better in terms of how often he goes deep looking for it. I still he think maybe he's going deep looking for it slightly too often.
"I can understand why. He is the main man, he wants to be on the ball all the time, and when you are playing against packed defences, sometimes you have to go deeper looking for it.
"But, the moments of magic we always get from him are in that final third. Maybe at times he just needs to accept, 'okay, I'll stay in here for the next 15 minutes and maybe get four balls instead of getting eight balls'.
"But when he's on it, there's nobody else in the league that can do what he can do. There is nobody else that can even see the passes that he sees, never mind pull them off. Throw in the set piece stuff on top of that."
Byrne is know for his speed, creativity and capabilities on the ball. However, Keegan feels that his most underrated attribute is his work rate without the ball.
"The thing that I think constantly gets overlooked is I don't think he lets you down for work rate off the ball," Keegan said. "He is constantly rattling around the place. He is a pest in the best way possible.
"It is just a pity that there are no European games between now and the next Ireland get-together, where he could again show his talent at that level, and answer any questions people may have around him.
"But if he continues this form between now and the June games, I'll be saying I don't care, get him in and lets get a look at him back in and Ireland jersey."
Byrne is the creative player Ireland needs
A back injury prematurely ended Byrne's career in Cyprus with APOEL. While the injury itself was known about, Gartland feels that the extent to which the injury has affected Byrne's game has gone unnoticed until now.
"His back injury was probably a lot more severe than people thought it was," Gartland said. "That is probably what finished me.
"You lose that power and ability to turn and that little yard. Jack is a lot quicker than me, but that is where Jack [feels it]. I remember doing the talk with him, it was one of the things he touched on a lot.
"He had it going over, and he probably failed his medical originally. He said they got it through, then obviously Mick [McCarthy] lost his job.
"So, it has taken him a little while to get going, but his pass the other night was unbelievable."
For Gartland, Byrne's creativity could add a lot to Kenny's attacking structure when the team regather in June.
"Once he gets his awareness and his vision up and running, he is a wonderful player, a wonderful technician," Gartland said.
"He actually likes players coming towards him, and then he is looking for runners after that. We do need somebody like that that can be creative and open the door.
"As he said as well when I was talking to him, he feels that's his job. He feels his job in the team is to create chances and make scoring opportunities.
"He was like, 'defenders are there to keep clean sheets, and I am there to create chances. That is what I am going out on the pitch to do. I will never not play a pass that I see, because that is my job on the team'. It is a great attitude to have."
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