Saturday 19 January 2019

Southend boss tips Macca for Ireland call

Stephen McLaughlin
Stephen McLaughlin

Donegal lad Stephen McLaughlin got to play League of Ireland football alongside James McClean in the Derry City shirt.

But the duo could be reunited on the international stage, according to McLaughlin's manager at club level.

Southend United may be mid-table in England's third tier but there's a strong Irish influence at the club, with senior cap Simon Cox, former LOI star Dave Mooney, ex-U21 cap Michael Timlin and winger McLaughlin all in the side under Phil Brown.

When Championship players, such as John Egan, Matt Doherty, Greg Cunningham or Conor Hourihane, can't get into the Ireland squad, it's a big ask to expect a League One player to make it, as Christopher Forrester and Paddy Madden have found out.

But Brown, who managed Hull City in the Premier League and had players like Stephen Hunt and Kevin Kilbane in the Irish squad, sees a role there for McLaughlin (26) as well as a possible recall for Cox.

"It certainly wouldn't surprise me if Macca was on the radar of the Republic of Ireland squad at the moment because he certainly deserves to be as far as I'm concerned," says Brown of McLaughlin, who has scored six goals in 19 games for United this season.

"He's in very good form and to have already scored six goals is excellent.

"We haven't had any contact with the Ireland set up but if Macca keeps this up then he definitely has to be in with a chance of getting a call up."

From Clonmany in Donegal McLaughlin, is yet to be capped at any level and he played down the Ireland talk. "The Ireland squad is really strong at the moment which is great to see and there are a lot of quality players around so it would be extremely difficult for anyone to get a call up, especially when you're in League One," he told the Southend Echo.

Brown also made the case for a recall for Cox, last capped in 2013.

"If Simon can maintain his current level of form then he could also be in with a chance of being called up," added Brown.

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