FORMER Braintree Town loanee Sammie Szmodics has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad for their friendly double-header against Belgium and Switzerland.

The Blackburn Rovers forward is one of three new faces named in John O'Shea's 26-man squad for their upcoming matches.

Szmodics, 28, is set for his international bow after topping the Championship scoring charts with 21 goals so far this season, while Lyon defender Jake O'Brien and Middlesbrough forward Finn Azaz are also called up for the first time.


O'Shea, who was appointed interim head coach in February, will lead his side out against Belgium at the Aviva Stadium on March 23 before hosting Switzerland three days later.

Captain Seamus Coleman returns to the squad for the first time since Ireland's 1-0 defeat to France in March.

Robbie Brady, Callum O'Dowda and on-loan Millwall striker Michael Obafemi are also handed recalls.

Ex-U's academy player Szmodics has clocked up more than 300 career league appearances.


He joined Blackburn from Peterborough United in August, 2022 and has now made 76 appearances for them in all competitions.

He has been in great form for Rovers this season, scoring 23 times and is currently the Championship’s leading scorer, with 18 goals.

Szmodics scored a total of 40 times in 165 appearances for his home town club Colchester, between 2013 and 2019.

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The former Stanway School pupil twice finished as the U's top scorer during his time at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Szmodics ended his 16-year association with the U's when he joined Championship side Bristol City, in the summer of 2019.

The former U's academy product joined Peterborough on a four-year deal from the Robins in September 2020 having previously been on loan at Posh, where he made 86 league and cup appearances, scoring 23 times.

Since joining Blackburn in the summer of 2022, Szmodics has gone from strength to strength and is enjoying an excellent season with the Lancashire club.