MARTIN O’NEILL is keeping an eye on Patrick Bamford’s explosive form.

The Middlesbrough striker hasn’t been called up for the Republic of Ireland this month, but Bamford’s eight goals in his last five matches have not only propelled Boro into the play-off picture again but they have also caught the eye of the Irish.

O’Neill, the Ireland boss, was considering contenders to be called up for the friendly with Turkey this month and has only named three strikers - Southampton’s Shane Long, Aston Villa’s Scott Hogan and Preston’s Sean Maguire.

Bamford’s impressive goal return after a difficult couple of years has put him back on the radar and O’Neill will have discussions with him later this year if his improved form continues.

The 25-year-old represented Ireland at Under-18s level through his grandparents but then pulled on the England shirt at Under-21s level.

Bamford was given his Three Lions appearances by Gareth Southgate, so the prospect of playing for England, his country of birth, is still likely to sway his mind.

But O’Neill is trying to put together a squad for the start of the UEFA Nations League which starts in September and needs to find a replacement for Daryl Murphy.

It is understood Bamford has not ruled out the possibility of playing for Ireland either, while Boro’s Ireland No 1 Darren Randolph will also do his best to persuade him to go green. 

The former Sunderland and Newcastle striker, now with Nottingham Forest, has retired from international football so there is an opening, and Bamford’s goalscoring potential and ability to lead the line would suit Ireland’s style of play.

Boro boss Tony Pulis, like he has with Adama Traore, has been able to get the best out of Bamford and the Middlesbrough manager will be hoping the former Chelsea striker can power the Teessiders into the play-offs.

Before this recent goal surge Bamford had only found the net three times this season, once in the league in December and then back in September he scored a brace in the EFL Cup win at Aston Villa.

Garry Monk tended to play him out wide initially and that was where Pulis thought he was better suited, until an injury to Rudy Gestede and an out-of-sorts Britt Assombalonga forced the manager’s hand.

Since switching to the player’s preferred central attacking role in the second half at Sunderland, though, he has looked full of confidence.

Bamford, born in Grantham, was the Championship’s player of the year in 2015 when he helped Middlesbrough reach the play-off final. He was not fully fit but led the line as Norwich overcome Aitor Karanka’s side at Wembley.