FAI checking eligibility of in-form Preston striker Garner
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FAI checking eligibility of in-form Preston striker Garner

THE FAI are currently exploring whether in form Preston North End attacker Joe Garner is eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland.

Garner, who has scored 20 league goals this season for League One promotion challengers Preston North End, has relations still living in Galway city.

Despite being a former England under 16, under 17, and under 19 international, leading FAI officials were recently made aware that Garner might qualify for Ireland.

Sources have confirmed to The Irish Post that FAI chiefs are now investigating if Garner -who was voted Preston’s Player of the Year last season - can declare for the Republic of Ireland.

Twenty six year old Garner started his professional career with Blackburn Rovers before a successful stint with Carlisle United.

The highly rated Garner has also featured for Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town, Scunthorpe United, and Watford.  Since moving to Preston in January 2013 Garner has excelled for the club he supported as a child.

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Renowned for hitting spectacular goals Garner netted four in Preston’s League One triumph against Crewe Alexandra on March 14 and Martin O’Neill’s backroom staff are rumoured to have been informed about his potential availability.

Last month O’Neill said: “I would love to leave a legacy.  I would love to leave some young players who came through in my tenure for the next person.

“Ideally they would be born in Dublin, Cork, Waterford or Galway, but that is certainly not to say I won’t consider second generation Irish players.  I want to make that very clear.

“If a guy like Cyrus Christie or David McGoldrick comes along and expresses an interest in playing for Ireland of course we will want them.”