With the 2011/12 Npower Championship entering its third weekend, it is a good time to look at 5 players who will be ones to watch out for this season.
The embryonic table may be a bit premature but already the bigger teams such as Southampton and Derby County have put a marker down with the biggest surprise being Leicster and Leeds struggling. Sportsnewsireland have taken 5 of our Irish players who we expect to make an impression this season.
Chris McCann (Burnley)- Finglas born McCann is the skipper at the Turf Moor side and has bounced back from a dreadful knee injury two seasons ago. Strong in the tackle and not afraid to give his opinion, McCann is the rock around which Eddie Howe is looking to build his side. He is a great footballer who plays intelligent passes, indeed his passing is reminiscent of Johnny Giles. Will he break into the national side? Who knows. It is certainly true that he is a far superior player to water carriers such as Andrews and Whelan.
David Forde(Millwall)- If ever a player is an example to young Irish guys rejected by clubs then Forde is it. A much travelled keeper, the 29 year old had spells at West Ham, Cardiff,Bangor City and pitched up at Galway United before Derry City got him in the spotlight and thus to London and the New Den. Many critics best keeper last season, he is a vital cog in Kenny Jacketts side. Strong, agile and brilliant in organising his defence, he is currently for me the best stopper outside the Premier League. With two vital games coming up for the national side and having played every game last season and this, will Trappatoni have the sense to go with Forde or stick with the old reliable.
Andy Reid(Nottm Forest)- Players come and go but Reid remains an enigma. Brilliant skill and vision but never looked comfortable when sold to Spurs by Forest. His career since has nosedived with the added insult of rejection by the national side when skill like his would and should have been rewarded. If Robbie Keane can get capped and not play reserve football then Reid should have been given a chance. Time waits for no man and so he is back at the City Ground and along with his guitar, the Paul Brady of Irish footballers will be looking to re-invent himself under that other much maligned character, Steve McClaren. My fear for Andy is lack of a decent forward may scupper any promotion plans.
Mark Yates (Watford)- Around the league a while now, Yates, son of the late Shels player Stephen, remains a highlight of the weekend. After starting at Spurs, he ended up last season in a very poor Sheffield United side but was the first one picked up by a championship side moving to Watford. Already he has shone in a team looking to repeat last year’s promotion push. Operating behind the two forwards he pings balls around with aplomb and currently sports a rather striking shaved head look. Yet another Irish player that the national side could have looked at but Yates will continue to perform above the average.
Darren O’Dea(Leeds)- Coolock born O’Dea is in somewhat of a last chance saloon as he looks to get his career back on track. Although he has played over 70 games at Parkhead, his face doesn’t seem to fit and he has been loaned out to Reading and Ipswich in the last year. His move to Leeds sees him in a side a bit overshadowed by a campaign to oust Ken Bates and with ‘’big’’ player Max Gradel seemingly somewhere else judging by his first performance. Their poor start to the season is not what they wanted and Simon ‘’Larry’’ Grayson is already no 1 for the chop in the betting stakes. O’Dea is a solid, dependable defender who will need all his big game experience to go along side his international appearances to steady a rocky Leeds ship.