John Egan experienced mixed fortunes in his first season at Brentford, but his manager is in no doubt about his leadership qualities.
The Cork native joined the London club from League One side Gillingham ahead of the 2016-17 season and enjoyed an impressive start to life at Griffin Park, finding the net in games against Ipswich Town and Aston Villa in his first few months.
However, as the season progressed, Egan lost his place in the team to French defender Yoann Barbet as Brentford stuttered to a 10th-place finish in the Championship. Nevertheless, the 24-year-old’s progress was recognised by Martin O’Neill, who handed him his senior Republic of Ireland debut in the March friendly defeat to Iceland.
Thanks for all of your support this season. It’s been a good year hopefully we can kick on now again next season. Have a good summer 😎🐝 pic.twitter.com/4hjVdxviLm
— John Egan (@JohnEgan92) May 7, 2017
Egan has retained his place in the Ireland squad and will be hoping to impress O’Neill further in the upcoming friendly games against Mexico and Uruguay ahead of June’s crunch World Cup qualifier against Austria.
Despite losing his place in the Bees XI, Egan’s club manager was full of praise for the former Sunderland man’s attitude.
“There’s a lot of promise there and he’ll be frustrated he’s not in the team. There’s a leader in John Egan,” Smith is quoted as saying by getwestlondon.co.uk.
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) May 15, 2017
“You can see it every day with his attitude around the place. He’s one that other players look up to and he’s got better and better. I’ve said before all the centre half pairings can play in this league.”
Egan finished the 2016-17 campaign with four goals in 34 league appearances and he will be keen to build on his first full season in the Championship next term.
With Ciaran Clark ruled out of Ireland’s upcoming games through injury, Egan will be aiming to stake his claim for a place in O’Neill’s team, but he faces stiff competition, with the likes of Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce, Marc Wilson and Shane Duffy also in the mix.