The number of young Irish strikers in world football currently is very high. From Troy Parrott and Jonathan Afolabi to Norwich’s Adam Idah, there are many names that are being tipped to become the next striker for the Ireland senior team. But the most interesting case happens to be that of Southampton striker Michael Obafemi.

Currently at the club for a good few years now, young Obafemi is one of those young Irish strikers to be playing regularly. That isn’t the case for Idah or Parrott. While Afolabi is now at Dunfermline and playing regularly, it is unknown what his Celtic future holds. Players often end up having to go to to pass the time given their lack of on-field minutes.

In that sense, Obafemi is certainly closer to being an Ireland regular than them. He has made one senior-team appearance so far, but he’s still well below the likes of Callum O’Dowda, Aiden O’Brien and Scott Hogan in the pecking order. But the way things are going for Obafemi, the bright lights aren’t too far away.

He certainly has benefitted from Che Adams’ poor start to life in the Premier League this season. But Obafemi broke into the first-team back in the 2017-18 season and over the years, he’s now become a regular fixture in the team – becoming as popular as a casino bonus 2021 in the Saints’ fan’s eyes.

This season, the 19-year-old has made 19 appearances in all competitions for the Saints. He hasn’t been the most prolific, but he still has three goals and one assist to his name. Shane Long isn’t a prolific scorer by any means and with Adams not nailing down a first-team spot, Obafemi has often been Ralph Hasenhuttl’s go-to option beside Danny Ings.

While the side was struggling to rely on a consistent shape early on in the season and this saw them plummet to the bottom of the league at one point, but the constant usage of the 4-4-2 has changed things. That has helped Obafemi, who is a proper striker and not a wide player who cuts inside with his pace.

The youngster usually plays beside Ings, allowing him to play slightly further forward. Obafemi has been key to linking play from midfield to Ings, often carrying the ball into the final third. He completes 0.7 dribbles per game- something that is his strength on the ball. And he comes up with 0.5 key passes per game too.

Those aren’t the biggest numbers. But he is still growing in stature and in many regards at the tender age of 19. He has overperformed on his XG by 1.11, showing how he can be a capable finisher on his day. He scored in the club’s win at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, coming up with a very good performance in a big game. That is what Hasenhuttl and Ireland would want to see on a regular basis in the future.

After that win over Chelsea, Hasenhuttl said: “But I was so happy, it was a fantastic goal for Michael. Not only the goal, but he was there to help the team. That’s the best Michael we can imagine.

“I think for us all it was a fantastic day because we have to play again in two days.”

While Obafemi hasn’t sparkled much since, but at least he’s playing constantly and getting minutes under his belt. That isn’t true for Idah or Parrott and that puts Obafemi higher up in the list of priorities that Ireland might have. Sooner or later, there is every chance he gets a go.