Sheffield United: John Egan's growing influence highlighted by Republic of Ireland boss's comments after Belgium display

John Egan, the Sheffield United defender, was hailed as a key man as the Republic of Ireland drew 2-2 with Belgium in a friendly at the weekend.

Monday, 28th March 2022, 11:30 am

Stephen Kenny’s extended their unbeaten run to seven games with an impressive display against the world’s number one side Belgium in the FAI's centenary match on Saturday.

Egan and Co. have now lost only once in the 11 fixtures they have played since a humiliating 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat by Luxembourg in March last year – and that reverse came against a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal.

And speaking after the Belgium draw, boss Kenny highlighted the Blades defender’s growing influence in the Ireland camp.

“I thought John Egan changed a lot,” Kenny said.

“His press was so aggressive from left centre-back that he won a couple of critical challenges plus he took the ball out and was able to add some calm to our play.

“I thought he was very, very influential in that period when we needed someone to be, in terms of spectacular challenges – jumping from the halfway line to their goal to win tackles, and then also carry the ball out and being able to use it well.

Republic of Ireland's John Egan has been in good form for Sheffield United and his country recently (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

“So I think the dynamic psychologically, when they got the goal, they only had one chance in the first half when they hit the side-netting. They’re 1-0 up and they can overload their midfield by dropping one of their strikers in, they can dominate possession a little bit more… that gives us a problem possession-wise in that period."