John Egan will captain Ireland on just third Irish appearance

John Egan will take on the captain’s armband in this evening’s friendly international against Bulgaria at the Aviva stadium.

In just his third international appearance, the 26-year-old Sheffield United defender will step into Seamus Colemans role for the evening.

Egan’s father, the late John Egan Senior, was a prominent member of the great Kerry football team of the 1970’s and early 1980’s, winning six All Ireland’s on the way.

Egan has been an integral part of Sheffield United’s decent start to football in the Premier League, with Chris Wilder’s side currently lying 10th in the standings.

He was also impressive in last season’s Championship campaign that saw automatic promotion attained with a second place finish.

The defenders captaincy is not the only talking point of interest going into this game.

Aston Villa’s Conor Hourihane has been told he will start the game at full-back, with one eye ahead of next month’s pivotal qualifier in Georgia.

With Enda Stevens banned for that game following his second yellow card of the campaign in the hard-fought draw with Switzerland last week, Irish manager Mick McCarthy has moved away from the presumption that James McClean would fill in for Stevens, and is set to give Hourihane the chance to prove himself in this unfamiliar role.

McCarthy is not foreign to trying unorthodox positional switches. Early into his first stint as Ireland manager, he partook in a failed experiment to try full-back Ian Harte as part of a three-man central defence.

The short-lived experiment failed to gather any traction.

Whether this evening’s experiment pans out, remains to be seen. Hourihane will though have good company in the back four, with Egan likely to relish such a big opportunity to stake a claim for a starting berth in Ireland’s upcoming, crucial qualifiers.