Sheffield United: John Egan lifts the lid on dressing room ‘rivalries’ at Bramall Lane

John Egan and Enda Stevens are both in the Republic of Ireland squad
John Egan and Enda Stevens are both in the Republic of Ireland squad

John Egan resisted the temptation to remind the interviewer that, born and bred near the city of Cork, he does not hail from one of the Home Nations.

But the Sheffield United defender did reveal, during a media roundtable at the Championship club's training complex, that he still enjoys stoking the friendly rivalry between his British colleagues.

"There's always a bit of banter flying around the changing room," Egan said. "The English lads, the Welsh lads, the Scots and the Northern Irish. Joking aside though, we're a very close group. And when we step out on to the pitch, it doesn't matter where you're from because it's all about United."

Egan, together with his close friend and fellow Republic of Ireland international Enda Stevens, will be hoping to earn some bragging rights early next week when Martin O'Neill's squad face Wales at the Aviva Stadium. Ben Woodburn, on loan at Bramall Lane from Liverpool, could also feature after being called-up by the visitors.

But first, before they attempt to avenge last month's Nations League defeat, the Irish face Denmark tomorrow in another crucial tie. Stevens and Egan both hope to start after impressing during their country's most recent outing; a 1-1 draw with Poland.

"We played really well (in Poland), to be fair, we conceded late on but overall we did really well," Egan said. "I was really happy with the performance of the team.

Kieron Freeman has been called-up by Wales, together with Ben Woodburn

Kieron Freeman has been called-up by Wales, together with Ben Woodburn

"If you get a chance you stick your hand up, any time you get on the pitch you just try to impress people, you always give your best."

With six first team players on duty with their respective countries, United manager Chris Wilder faces an anxious wait before finalising plans for his team's return to action against Derby County. Having watched them climb to first in the table following last weekend's victory over Hull City, the 51-year-old and his staff will be keen to select the same starting eleven which defeated Nigel Adkins' side. 

Although events in Dublin could force a change of tack, Egan explained why the benefits of seeing players recognised by their countries out-weigh concerns about injuries and fitness. Wilder has also gone on record to confirm his belief that United should be proud of their employees' achievements.

"Football is a game of learning," Egan said. "The ones who learn the quickest tend to get to the top quickest.

Sheffield United's John Egan

Sheffield United's John Egan

"You are going out playing against top players, different teams, different cultures, and learn a hell of a lot from it."

"I have played three games for Ireland - Iceland, Mexico and Poland - and they have been three really different teams," he added. "But I have learned so much from each team, they have top, top players.

"It’s great for the players, but also great for the club, to get that recognition. You can only do one thing, and that’s learn from it."