The end of the European qualifiers is fast approaching, and while all hope may not be gone just yet, the hopes of the Irish making it to next summer’s European Championships are hanging by an extremely thin rope. Right now, they are lower in the odds for Euro 2020, than the Cincinnati Bengals in the odds to make it into the NFL playoffs.

In order to qualify, the Irish will need to beat Denmark and then hope for the other two results to go their way. It may not seem impossible, but it is certainly improbable. Mick McCarthy had hoped his troops could have got a result in Switzerland last time out, as a point there would have given them at least a fighting chance.

However, the 2-0 defeat left their hopes hanging in the balance and out of their hands. There will be those that may still argue that the game should have been called off and replayed on a different day, but even by Ireland’s track record, fans wouldn’t have been convinced the result would have been a different one.

Regardless, there are still aspects that fans can get excited about over the next couple of years with McCarthy beginning to blood the youngsters into the squad. If they can reach their potential with the national side, it could be an extremely exciting time. But, which players could we be seeing a lot more of over the next couple of years?

Aaron Connolly

One of the best-regarded young strikers in the Premier League has begun to see his stock rise over the first weeks of the season this campaign, and this only looks set to rise further the more minutes that he plays on the pitch.

He was named in the Ireland squad for the first time under McCarthy earlier in the season and looked threatening whenever he had the ball against Switzerland.

There is a feeling that he still has parts of his game to perfect in order for Ireland to go into fixtures with a fighting chance with the online sportsbooks, but the signs this season are good.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s game against Tottenham Hotspur this season was an excellent example of what he is capable of as he scored twice in that game and caused nightmares for Toby Alderweireld in the Spurs defence. He is definitely a player to keep an eye on.

Troy Parrott

Ireland now have two promising young strikers that look capable of breaking into the first eleven in time for the first qualifiers for the World Cup. Parrott is widely regarded as the talented striker that can play back-up to Harry Kane at Spurs, and while he is yet to receive vital minutes on the pitch, he continues to excel at U21 level.

That would have certainly caught the attention of McCarthy as he was quick to call the youngster up for the senior Irish side for their last round of fixtures. He is also expected to get called up for the next crucial fixture against Denmark, which just highlights how highly he is regarded. He has already proven his quality at U21 level for the national side as he has scored three goals in three games. While Tottenham have also begun to include Parrott in their senior matchday squad after he has also impressed in the Youth Champions League by scoring five goals in three games. His speed and ability to shoot from anywhere around the box makes him a modern-day striker. He is also able to link-up play neatly.

He could form a dynamic and exciting partnership with Connolly for the national side, and hopefully, it will be a partnership that could guide the country back to a major competition.