Preston North End pair have international duty with the Republic of Ireland before the season starts

Preston North End pair Alan Browne and Sean Maguire are set for a stint of international duty as part of the build-up to the new season.

Tuesday, 4th August 2020, 4:45 pm

The Republic of Ireland have two Nations League matches against Bulgaria and Finland shortly before the Championship kicks-off the 2020/21 campaign.

Midfielder Browne and striker Maguire are regulars in the Irish squad and will hope that continues under new manager Steve Kenny who has replaced Mick McCarthy.

There are complications in terms of the Irish planning for the Nations League double header.

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Alan Browne and Sean Maguire

At the moment the game against Bulgaria is scheduled for September 3 in Sofia.

However, a rise in cases of Covid-19 there and the fact Bulgaria is not on the Irish’s government’s safe list, could see the game played in another country.

If they did play in Bulgaria, it could see the players having to quarantine on their return and they face Finland in Dublin three days later – that is a decision for the Irish Government.

So there could be concern among clubs regarding the release of players as things stand.

Preston North End's Alan Browne and Sean Maguire in action against Brentford at Griffin Park in July

If the games do ahead, Browne and Maguire would be away from North End for more than a week.

They would be back for the week leading up to the start of the season – it begins on September 12.

PNE’s squad report back for pre-season training a week on Thursday.

That will have given them a three-week break since the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

Browne and Maguire are among the group of PNE players now in the final year of their contracts.

Both will be offered new deals having been regulars for the last three seasons under Alex Neil.

Browne has just completed his seventh season at Preston, having signed from Cork City part-way through the 2013-14 campaign – he was in Cork’s Under-19s at the time.

Maguire came from Cork too, having scored a hatful of goals in the League of Ireland.

This season, his scoring record came under scrutiny with him only having found the net five times – his goal at Bristol City in the final game was his first since December.

However, he featured in 44 of the 46 Championship games, 36 of those starts.

So he is a player who has the trust of Neil, even with his goal tally having dipped.