John Egan to captain Ireland against Bulgaria tonight

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John Egan will captain the Republic of Ireland for the first time tonight when Bulgaria visit the Aviva for an international friendly.

The Sheffield United defender will lead his country out on his fifth international appearance.

Manager Mick McCarthy will ring the changes from last week’s draw with Switzerland, with James Collins and Jack Byrne expected to make their debuts.

Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane will be deployed at left-back for just the second time ever in his career.

But despite his experience in the position, McCarthy thinks the Corkman can cope with the change in position.

McCarthy said: “He is a very intelligent player, that’s for sure. He has a wonderful left foot and if we can get him further up the pitch so he can deliver crosses, we should get some joy out of that.

“Depending on who is up against him – if he has a flying winger can he deal with it? At least I will have had a look at that and it might be another string to his bow.

“Is there anything at stake tomorrow night except trying to find some things out? No, would you agree? Well, why would I not try it?

“What happens if it ends up being that he looks amazing? He’s got all the tools to play there, that’s for sure. Wouldn’t it be great if it turned out that I thought, ‘Well, I’ve got one that can play there’?”

Kick-off at the Aviva is at 7.45pm.

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