Albion midfielder Andrew Moran is at the centre of an Irish football debate as he potentially awaits his senior international debut this evening.

Stephen Kenny’s decision to call him in from the Republic of Ireland under-21s, then keep him on the bench during the 1-0 defeat in Holland, appears to have divided opinion.

Moran is a key player for the 21s but missed two important games when called on by the seniors amid injury concerns.

The 21s are playing European Championship qualifiers while the seniors were already out of the running for Euro 2024 as they went to Amsterdam for their final group fixture.

They have a friendly at home to New Zealand this evening which could be the chance for Moran to make his debut.

There has been criticism that Moran should have stayed with the 21s, who lost 3-2 to Norway at the weekend having been 2-1 up.

That argument was being expressed on Irish radio station RTE within a few minutes of full-time at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

The very persuasive counter argument is that the 21s exist primarily to produce players for the senior side.

Moran is a bright prospect and the New Zealand game looks a great chance to get him on the pitch.

If that is to be the case, then it is surely only fair for him to have a few days training with Kenny’s squad rather than bringing him straight into a group he does not know.

Actually, if the 21s’ game was more important than the seniors, then why not go the other way – and switch Evan Ferguson from the senior squad instead?

Admittedly, that last bit is stretching the point a little.

But under-21s boss Jim Crawford was prepared to see a bigger picture when asked about Moran’s absence from his group.

He was aware Kenny’s decision had been slammed by TV pundit Didi Hamann.

Crawford said: “That’s Didi’s perspective on things. A player of Andy Moran’s ability, he’s always going to be there or thereabouts, with the senior team.

“We knew that in the last window when he was called up for the senior team and unfortunately got injured.

“To lose any player of Andy’s quality in any game, any team would feel it.

“But you know, the bigger picture is it gives players at under-21 level an opportunity and it also gives Andy a chance to bed into the senior team.

“I’ve no doubt he’ll play against New Zealand.”

If we are talking about bigger pictures, then surely the biggest is the progress made by Moran to put him in this position.

The 20-year-old from Dublin has been a big success since moving on loan to Blackburn Rovers in the ultra-competitive Championship.

He is following in the footsteps of Jan Paul van Hecke and Reda Khadra, both of whom went to Ewood Park for a season.

We are aware of what has happened to van Hecke while Khadra is now in Ligue 1 with Stade de Reims.

Those who base opinions purely on stats will not be blown away by Moran's tally of three assists and no goals from 12 league games, of which seven were starts.

But reports from East Lancs have been glowing, not least when he was involved in the recent 3-1 win at Norwich.

And those numbers, of course, do not include the Carabao Cup.

On a magical night at Ewood, he scored two goals and created two as Cardiff were beaten 5-2 to secure a tie at Chelsea.

On international duty, he has been the driving force for the 21s and scored a stunning goal in the dramatic 3-2 win at home to Turkey.

Which left him as the next man in line for the seniors when injuries struck.

Kenny said: “Andy’s an important part of the squad. He’s a versatile player.

“I’ve heard it said it’s inexcusable that I’ve called him into the senior squad.

“I tell you what’s inexcusable. That fact that not many players were progressing for eight years through the Irish system.

“Andy is a really good prospect that we want to progress.

“If it’s not me, for the next manager.

“He’s in the senior squad because he’s the next best player to come in, in that position.

“He’s rewarded for his good performances.

“Okay, other players were preferred on the night (in Amsterdam).

“You don’t know what’s going to happen in the game and you react and make decisions based on that.

“But he was a good option as an attacking No8 or as someone who could possibly play wider off the left as well.

“He was a good option for us, as he will be (on Tuesday).

“He’s in on merit. As a young player, you have to be rewarded with that.”