Wednesday 29 March 2017

Classy Brady aims to force way into Trap's plans

John Fallon

ROBBIE BRADY is determined to take another step towards senior international recognition when he lines out for Ireland's U-21 team in their UEFA Championship qualifier against Turkey in Manisa today (5.0 Irish time).

If Brady's brace in the 2-1 friendly victory over Austria in Sligo last month didn't provoke interest from Giovanni Trapattoni, then his masterclass last Thursday against Hungary certainly did.

The 20-year-old Manchester United winger got Noel King's first full qualifying campaign up and running by rifling home a stunning early opener before teeing up Rhys Murphy to nod home the winner in a 2-1 triumph.

His stock is on the rise at club level, too. Alex Ferguson's decision to blood the Dubliner on loan at Hull City has worked wonders -- as his match-winning display against Reading last Saturday week proved.

Today's qualifier against the early Group 7 pacesetters amid temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius promises to be Brady's sternest test this term -- not that he's shirking at the challenge.

"The aim for me on a personal level is to get promotion to the senior squad, but this week is all about getting a result against Turkey," he said last night. "While watching the senior match against Slovakia on television last Friday, I asked myself if I could have done something to change the game if I was involved. I think I would have."

For all the praise the U-21s are receiving for their attacking style, spearheaded in particular by Brady (left), King has tried to dampen expectations.

A spying mission to Vaduz last Friday night, when he saw the Turks defeat Liechtenstein 3-0, illustrated to the Irish boss the calibre of today's opponents.

Still, there's a refreshing determination among King's group -- something that seemed to be lacking under his predecessor, Don Givens.

"It's a big ask of our players to get a result here against a very talented Turkey outfit, but we've some excellent players in our ranks," said King last night.

Central to their confidence is the array of options available to King. Any manager that can leave a defender with Europa League experience such as Everton's Shane Duffy on the bench, as has occurred in the last two matches, is spoilt for choice.

Highly rated Chelsea playmaker Conor Clifford was dropped for the first time at this level for two years on Thursday to accommodate the return of James McCarthy.

With the Wigan midfielder restored to the senior squad for duty in Moscow today, Clifford should win a recall. The second enforced change from last Thursday's line-up will be up front, where Shrewsbury's James Collins is expected to replace Murphy, who has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

IRELAND (probable) -- McLoughlin (MK Dons); Connolly (Bolton), Canavan (Scunthorpe), Kiernan (Wigan Athletic), Gunning (Dundee United); Towell (Hibernian), Barton (Preston), Clifford (Chelsea); Brady (Manchester United), Collins (Shrewsbury Town), White (Leeds United).

Irish Independent

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