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Dennis Cirkin’s Irish connections could open up a perfect opportunity for him- if he’s interested!

Cirkin enjoyed a stellar 2022/2023 season and Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has hinted at a possible international call up for the left back. Michael Dunne looks at how it could benefit him in the long run

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The opportunity to play international football is one that most ambitious players always seek throughout their careers. After all, it gives them the chance to challenge themselves on a bigger stage against some of the world’s best footballers.

However, in many cases, there are also plenty of footballers who may not be fortunate enough to ever play for their country, such may be the vast pool of players that the manager has to choose from, and the English national team is possibly the best example of this.

This is where the so-called ‘mixed allegiance’, or as we call it in Ireland, ‘the Granny rule’ comes into play. More than most countries, our international team have taken advantage of this due to many Irish people’s ancestors moving years ago, to England in particular.

It’s been relatively successful in the past, yet many fans still feel burned by the understandable decisions of Declan Rice and Jack Grealish to switch from the Ireland team to England.

In more recent times, the world and society in general has become far more multi-cultural, and the freedom and the affordable opportunity to travel has seen people settle or spend time living in many countries.

This has often lead to people having allegiances or connections to more than just one country.

Republic of Ireland v France - UEFA EURO 2024 Championship Qualifier Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images

It’s clear to see across many international football teams and in my own country, someone like Michael Obafemi is a perfect example. He was born in Dublin to Nigerian parents but moved to London at a young age, where he grew up.

Elsewhere, Jamal Musiala is another high-profile example. He was born in Germany to Nigerian and German parents, but was raised in England from the age of seven.

Complex, isn’t it?

By the same token, it certainly allows plenty of footballers to embrace opportunities to further their careers and play at the highest level possible.

In recent days, it’s been reported that Stephen Kenny has opened conversations to attempt to persuade our very own Dennis Cirkin to join the Republic of Ireland setup.

I know all about Dennis.

He declared for England, so we’ll have to see on that one.

He’s just focussing on Sunderland this season. I’ve asked that question and I’m not even 100% sure. It’s yet to be confirmed that he can switch and he hasn’t applied to do so.

Cirkin was born in Dublin to Latvian parents, but similar to Obafemi and Musiala, he lived the majority of his young life in England, where he featured for numerous English age-group teams.

From a selfish point of view as an Irish-supporting Sunderland fan, the thought of having Cirkin playing for the international team I support would add an extra layer of intrigue, but from a career perspective, it seems clear to me that this could be a fantastic opportunity for our left back, should he wish to pursue it.

Republic of Ireland Squad Announcement Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

From what we can gather, it seems unlikely that Cirkin is going to make any senior English international squads in the near future, given the array of options that Gareth Southgate has available to him.

With Latvia faring poorly when it comes to qualifying for competitions, you might think that this could be a perfect opportunity for Cirkin to continue prospering in his fledgling career.

There are many similarities between Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland setup at present. Just like Tony Mowbray’s squad of young and exciting players, Stephen Kenny has spent the past three or four years assembling a group that’s young, hungry and full of potential.

Moreover, he’s overseen a complete makeover of the style of play from the traditional ‘kick and rush’ football that’s been a staple of Irish teams since Jack Charlton to a more possession-based approach.

With Gavin Bazunu or Caomhin Kelleher in goal, along with the likes of Nathan Collins, Josh Cullen, Jayson Molumby, Will Smallbone and the aforementioned Obafemi, along with Brighton’s Evan Ferguson, the Irish team is certainly going in the right direction.

Sunderland v Watford - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Cirkin would surely slot perfectly into a team that’s full of young prospects who are making their way in the game.

Furthermore, with James McClean nearing the end of his career and Kenny seemingly unconvinced by Swansea’s Ryan Manning, there’s an opportunity to nail down a regular spot in an international setup.

Based on Kenny’s words, it’s clear that he’s keen to try and convince the Dublin-born Cirkin to join his team, but the biggest question is, would he be interested?


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