Bristol City star set for first Ireland cap after earning call-up

Bristol City wing-back Mark Sykes will jet out to Ireland after being called up by Stephen Kenny.

<p>Mark Sykes has been called up to represent Ireland. (Image: Getty Images) </p>

Mark Sykes has been called up to represent Ireland. (Image: Getty Images)

Bristol City wing-back Mark Sykes has received a call up to the Republic of Ireland national team. Stephen Kenny has drafted in the Robins' utility man into his squad for two upcoming friendlies after the withdrawals of Scott Hogan and Will Keane.

Ireland have not qualified for the World Cup but have friendly matches against Norway and Malta. They host Norway at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday, November 17 before travelling to the Ta' Qali National Stadium on Sunday, November 20.

The two matches are being used as a warm-up as Ireland prepare for their EURO 2024 qualifying campaign which begins in March. They are in a group with Netherlands and France, who are both at the World Cup, as well as Greece and Gibraltar.

Sykes was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and played for them from under-18 to under-21 level and was called up to their senior squad in May 2019 without making an appearance. His club career was also spent there and he represented Glenavon from 2013 to 2019, making 100 appearances in total.

He changed his allegiance to the Republic in August 2020 and was named in their squad in March, but didn't appear and was only an unused substitute. Sykes did not make the Ireland squad during the September period but after a consistent run of games at City, he could now enter the international stage for the first time at senior level.

Sykes has played 19 times for the Robins this season, missing two games through suspension. Sykes has been an unused substitute in City's last two matches with Andi Weimann and Antoine Semenyo preferred to him.

Max O'Leary has not been included in the squad this time around but Sykes could feature in the same team as two former City players. Callum O'Dowda and Callum Robinson who moved to Severnside rivals Cardiff City are in the squad.

Third-choice goalkeeper Stefan Bajic, who made his first-team debut against Lincoln City last week will also be on international duty. Bajic was called up to represent France’s Under-21’s squad.