With all of European football sure to be intrigued by what should be a competitive and exciting Euro 2012 this summer, some of the best players in the world will represent their countries and fight for glory. But will the Championship be represented at Europe’s top table? With the Republic of Ireland qualifying for the tournament in Ukraine and Poland, a number of players from the second-tier of English football may well make the grade, however there are one or two others that could also influence Euro 2012 betting odds.
Ireland – Darren O’Dea
Giovanni Trapattoni has tried to install a youthful exuberance into the Republic of Ireland squad, and although old heads such as Richard Dunne and John O’Shea are sure to make the Irish backline, O’Dea could have an important part to play. With 25 caps for his nation the former Celtic centre half has proved that he has the ability to cut it at international level, and the 25-year-old has started to come into his own at Leeds.
Ireland – Sean St Ledger
St Ledger was hailed as an excellent prospect in the earlier days of his career, with a number of Premier League sides interested in the confident defender. However, the now 27-year-old never really lived up to his potential and has played his football predominantly in The Championship. After spells at Preston and Middlesbrough he now steps out for ambitious Leicester City, and has been a mainstay in their rearguard this season when fit. With 25 caps to his name St Ledger should be included in the squad, and may well fight it out with O’Dea for a place in the starting XI.
Ireland – the rest
Along with the two established defenders, there are a number of other promising and talented Championship players looking to make the squad for Euro 2012. Paul Green of Derby has recently broken into the scene and has ten caps to his name, whilst Kevin Fahey has also been in the squad consistently since 2010; the Birmingham midfielder has amassed 15 caps. Veteran Kevin Kilbane’s experience may be called upon despite the Hull wideman’s age and Andy Keogh of Leeds will fight to make one of the remaining striker positions.
Denmark – Kasper Schmeichel
Son of legendary Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, Kasper as not lived up to the heady heights of his father but is proving to be a capable stopper. After spells with Notts County and Leeds, the Dane finds himself as number one at Leicester, starting all of their games this season. After 17 caps for Denmark under-21′s, the 25-year-old broke into the senior squad by being included for a game against Iceland in 2011. If Schmeichel continues his good form he may well go to Euro 2012, but will have to overcome 100-cap veteran Thomas Sorensen to play.
England – Ben Foster
Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster has been on loan at West Brom this season, and has been an ever-present for Roy Hodgson’s men. With the stopper on a temporary deal at the Baggies, the idea is that Chris Hughton’s men get promoted and Foster can return to play Premier League football. With a shortage of English goalkeepers playing in the English top flight, Foster has a good chance of being included if he can help the Hawthorns outfit finish in the top half. And with the change in England manager, he might just be persuaded to end his voluntary international retirement.
The author, Gareth McKnight, writes for Soccerlens.com.