After an unwanted four-year exile from the Republic of Ireland squad, 22-year-old Tyler Toland has been welcomed back into the senior camp ahead of the Nations League ties against Northern Ireland and Hungary.
Capped at 16 by Colin Bell, Toland was overlooked by previous Ireland manager Vera Pauw. The situation was exacerbated by an unseemly dispute between Toland’s father Maurice and Pauw in 2021.
“This is purely a football decision,” said Eileen Gleeson, the interim Irish head coach. “Tyler is a young player who has been part of our talent pool for a long time. She came though our youth system and went off to the professional game.
“I’m sure Tyler will agree that she’s not had the game time she wanted within clubs like Celtic and Levante. She’s now in the Championship with Blackburn Rovers, playing 90 minutes every week.
“As a football decision we decided to give her our consideration in this camp. It’s purely from that point that Tyler was selected.”
Toland’s last cap was a goalscoring, player-of-the-match display against Montenegro in September 2019, but her subsequent exclusion from Irish squads at all age grades was also a “football decision” Gleeson insisted.
“Tyler has had inconsistent minutes at a few clubs. She wants consistency and she’s secured her place in the Blackburn team. That gives us more of an opportunity to watch her performances and consider her for the senior team.”
Blackburn are second in the English second tier after four games with Toland already established in the Rovers midfield. Her second coming and the return of Ellen Molloy from a knee injury should give the next permanent Ireland manager plenty of midfield alternatives when Denise O’Sullivan finally halts the long-haul trip home from North Carolina.
Gleeson dispelled a slight concern surrounding O’Sullivan, after the NC Courage skipper was replaced with two minutes remaining in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat in Orlando.
“Denise is good. She is travelling in, she will have her rest and then she is back in training.”
Gleeson is “busy” this week. In fact, she is “very busy”. That comes with the territory as her history-making squad prepare for Northern Ireland’s visit to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Currently, she holds two jobs, overseeing the first international women’s football match on Lansdowne Road while remaining the FAI’s head of women’s and girls’ football. Reporting into director of football Marc Canham, her remit is to harness the interest created by the senior side competing at their first World Cup.
“It is busy. In this role, this particular task is in the immediacy. I have a lot of support internally, within the FAI, but managing both roles with an emphasis on this particular interim couple of weeks.”
Noting that her stint as national manager is for a “couple of weeks” is further indication that Canham could have a permanent replacement for Pauw in place when Albania come to Dublin on October 27th.
If the recruitment process takes longer, Gleeson could take Ireland through all six Nations League fixtures, finishing at Windsor Park on December 5th. Her coaching ticket appears to be on firmer ground after the FAI made two popular coaching appointments in Emma Byrne and Colin Healy.
Both assistant contracts could be offered contracts up to the 2025 European Championships in Switzerland. The same might apply to Ivi Casagrande, Brazil’s former performance coach, who was an upbeat presence at training on Tuesday.
Of the Aviva Stadium’s 51,700 capacity, 33,000 tickets have been sold for Saturday’s unique occasion, with the game kicking off at 12.30pm.