PNE defender’s Irish dream

Andy Boyle beats Blackburn Rovers' Lucas Joao to a header at Ewood Park last Saturday
Andy Boyle beats Blackburn Rovers' Lucas Joao to a header at Ewood Park last Saturday
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Preston defender Andy Boyle is eyeing up a debut double in March after meeting up with the Republic of Ireland squad this week.

The 26-year-old centre-half played his first game for North End just over a fortnight ago when he played against Derby County at Pride Park.

And now Boyle is hoping to make his international bow with the Irish set to face Wales this evening in an important World Cup qualifier, followed by a friendly against Iceland on Tuesday – both games in Dublin.

It is highly unlikely that Ireland boss Martin O’Neill will hand Boyle his first start for tonight’s crucial clash against the Welsh, but there is every chance that he will see some action when Iceland 
arrive at the Aviva Stadium next week.

Boyle was first called up for international duty alongside PNE team-mate Daryl Horgan in November, when the Irish defeated Austria 1-0 in Vienna to maintain their unbeaten World Cup qualification record in Group D.

Although he did not make the matchday squad, his call-up was reward for an outstanding season in the colours of Dundalk in the League of Ireland Premier Division.

Boyle arrived at North End with Horgan in the January transfer window, but had to wait for his first-team debut.

He was eventually handed his opportunity against the Rams and grasped it with both hands, producing an assured display alongside Paul Huntington in the heart of defence.

PNE boss Simon Grayson retained his services for the next two matches against Reading and Blackburn Rovers.

Boyle has yet to taste defeat in North End colours and if he was to pull on the Irish jersey for the very first time, it would cap a remarkable few weeks – and year – for him.

“It is an honour to be selected for your country,” Boyle said.

“It was great to be in the squad in November and to be part of a big three points out in Austria, which was massive for us in the World Cup qualifying stages.

“We have got a big game 
tonight against Wales and it will be nice if I’m involved.

“Obviously the week 
after, we have a friendly against Iceland so hopefully there is a chance of some game-time at some point along the way.

“It will be great to get my first cap and an amazing honour. It really would be a dream come true – it’s my boyhood dream to play for Ireland and represent my country.

“Every little kid dreams of one day playing for their 
country and I’m no different.

“It’s been a great year for me with winning the league and the European run with Dundalk and then the move to Preston.

“Hopefully I can cap it off with my first appearance for Ireland.”

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