Seamus Coleman is back in the Republic of Ireland squad for the first time since suffering an horrific double leg fracture in March last year.
The 29-year-old Everton full-back, who underwent surgery after breaking his leg during a 0-0 World Cup qualifier draw with Wales, has been included by manager Martin O’Neill in a 30-man group for the friendly clash with Turkey on March 23, a day short of a year since his injury.
There are places too for Preston duo Greg Cunningham and Sean Maguire and Brentford’s Alan Judge after injury, while O’Neill will also run the rule over a number of young players during a three-day training camp in Antalya as he plans for the future after signing his new contract.
Manchester United goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara, West Ham defender Declan Rice, Blackburn duo Darragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams, and Sheffield United’s Enda Stevens have all been handed senior call-ups, although O’Hara and Rice have previously trained with the squad.
The pair will head straight from senior duty to meet up with the Under-21s ahead of their European Championship qualifier against Azerbaijan on March 27.
However, it will be the sight of Coleman back on the training pitch which will be the most welcome after his enforced absence.
The Ireland skipper was hurt in a challenge by Neil Taylor 72 minutes into a tight encounter in Dublin and has undergone a lengthy rehabilitation process since.
He returned to action for the Toffees in a 2-1 Premier League win over Leicester on January 31 and has made three appearances to date this season.
Cyrus Christie, who replaced the former Sligo Rovers defender on the night, deputised ably for the remainder of the qualifying campaign, which ultimately saw O’Neill’s men miss out on a place at this summer’s finals in Russia after a play-off defeat by Denmark.
The Republic will use friendlies against Turkey, the United States, France, Poland and Northern Ireland to prepare for their forthcoming UEFA Nations League fixtures against Denmark and Wales.
Provisional squad: Rob Elliot (Newcastle), Colin Doyle (Bradford ), Kieran O’Hara (Manchester United), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday); Seamus Coleman (Everton), Cyrus Christie (Fulham), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Declan Rice (West Ham), John Egan (Brentford), Shane Duffy (Brighton), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle, Kevin Long (Burnley), Alex Pearce (Derby), Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams (both Blackburn), Greg Cunningham (Preston), Enda Stevens (Sheffield United); Alan Judge (Brentford), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Jeff Hendrick (Burnley), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), David Meyler (Hull), Eunan O’Kane (Leeds), Liam Kelly (Reading), Alan Browne, Daryl Horgan (both Preston), James McClean (West Brom); Shane Long (Southampton), Scott Hogan (Aston Villa), Sean Maguire (Preston).