Galway’s Ryan Manning has worked his way into the Republic of Ireland squad due to the high standard of his performances in the Championship for Swansea City. Under Russell Martin last season, Manning was a regular in the Swans side that finished in the comfortable place of 15th, well away from the bottom three.
The 26-year-old also featured in the Ireland squad during the season and in the Nations League matches against Armenia, Scotland and Ukraine, but was not utilised by Stephen Kenny, who preferred Enda Stevens in the left wing-back role. Manning will have the ambition of displacing Stevens in the near future as Kenny prepares his side for the Euro 2024 qualifiers next year. Another standout campaign for the Swans could allow Manning to slot into the position, with Martin’s men backed at 5/1 in the odds for betting on football to win promotion to the Premier League.
It would further enhance his credentials to be playing in the top flight ahead of the qualifying campaign, where too few players from the Ireland squad are currently plying their trade. Selecting Manning would have benefits for Kenny as it would balance his line-up with Cyrus Christie, who played alongside Manning at the Swans in the last campaign. Both players worked well under Martin, and know the intricacies of each other’s games.
Manning was stout defensively as well as being active in the final third. From left wing-back he was able to push forward and score twice over the course of the season. He notched his first in a narrow defeat to Reading at home before scoring the decisive strike against Preston North End at the Liberty Stadium in a 1-0 triumph. The 26-year-old also notched four assists, displaying a keen eye for a pass to open up opposing defences, which has been evident at his previous clubs in the second tier of English football.
One area where he does need to improve is his discipline. Manning was sent off twice for the Swans, along with picking up six bookings in his 34 matches. He managed to pick up two bookings inside 53 minutes against Blackburn, although the Swans were able to hold out for a 1-0 win despite being down to 10 men. Five matches late he was given a straight red card against Fulham as Martin’s men were dismantled 5-1 by the Cottagers. That level of discipline will not endear Manning to either Martin or Kenny, especially due to the importance of each qualifying match.
Manning must also take a step forward as a defender. The modern-day full-back has to be versatile and must possess the ability to drop back and play as part of a three-man defence. The best in the business such as Kyle Walker, Reece James, Cesar Azpilicueta among others have been able to make the transition. Manning has played in the role for Swansea, but may need further time to cement himself in the role. He will be given plenty of opportunities by Martin and it could persuade Kenny in due course that he is the right man to back ahead of Stevens, especially with time on his side.