Sheffield United: Wing-back receives a huge boost in his quest to become a Republic of Ireland regular

Enda Stevens has impressed at wing-back: Robin Parker/Sportimage
Enda Stevens has impressed at wing-back: Robin Parker/Sportimage
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Enda Stevens’ attempt to cement a place in the Republic of Ireland squad has been boosted by manager Martin O’Neill’s admission that he wants to begin playing with wing-backs.

Stevens, who has excelled in the role since joining Sheffield United last summer, hopes to make his senior international debut during Friday’s friendly against Turkey.

The 27-year-old was among five first-time call-ups selected for the match in Antalya and O’Neill, revealing he plans to continue with a system initially trialled against Mexico last summer, said: “We played a couple of lads back in the USA and tried the system, the three at the back with two wing-backs.

“The result, when you are well beaten by Mexico in the game, personally I wouldn’t have been too concerned about it.”

Stevens, previously of Aston Villa and Portsmouth, has emerged as a key member of the United team which enters the final eight games of the Championship season only two points outside of the play-off positions.

With the Republic scheduled to face France and the USA later this year, O’Neill attempted to ease the pressure on Stevens, adding: “The thing that’s important is while they might be under pressure to try to perform...it wouldn’t be the end of the world if somebody didn’t do well.”