Sheffield United: Why Enda Stevens believes John Egan can be Republic of Ireland's first-choice for years to come
Enda Stevens, the Sheffield United defender, has backed his Republic of Ireland teammate John Egan to establish himself as his country’s first-choice centre-half for years to come ahead of tonight’s crunch Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark.
Ireland know that a victory at the Aviva in Dublin will seal automatic qualification for Euro 2020, and Stevens and Egan are expected to win their latest caps for their country.
They could also be joined in Mick McCarthy’s starting eleven by their United teammates David McGoldrick and Callum Robinson, who scored his first Ireland goal against New Zealand last week.
Egan has taken his chance to show McCarthy what he is capable of at international level after Richard Keogh, the Derby County centre-half, suffered a career-threatening knee injury in a car crash involving two of his teammates from Pride Park.
And Egan was today included in an official Premier League team of the season so far, alongside United goalkeeper Dean Henderson and manager Chris Wilder. United went into the latest international break fifth in the top-flight table, and only Leicester City have conceded fewer goals than the Blades.
“I think the entire back three have been excellent all season,” Stevens said. “We have come up against some good players and they have shut a lot of teams out.
"But we defend as a team and we attack as a team, it is not only the back three.
"The midfield three work their socks off and the strikers do the same. We defend as a unit and we attack as a unit.
“But it is all coming together for Egs with the Irish set-up. It is a position I can really see him cementing over the coming years."
Egan and Stevens, barring illness or injury, will make their latest Premier League appearances on Sunday when Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s Manchester United visit Bramall Lane.
The Red Devils are seventh in the table, a point and two places behind the Blades, and a sold-out crowd will roar on the hosts against their namesakes from across the Pennines.
"We don't just defend, you see Jack and Bash pushing forward to help get the equaliser,” Stevens added.
"We want to defend and we want to work hard for each other.
"We have got that togetherness, we have got that way of playing and we want to impose ourselves on each game."