Saturday 22 October 2016

O'Neill steps up pursuit of highly rated Irish-eligible Arsenal underage star

John Fallon

Published 28/04/2016 | 12:57

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill

IRELAND manager Martin O’Neill has intensified his hunt for the allegiance of Danny Crowley by holding a face-to-face meeting with the Arsenal youngster.

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Both England boss Roy Hodgson and O’Neill are battling the secure the 18-year-old, who has represented both nations but is yet to commit his long-term future to either.

O’Neill made his initial pitch last September by phoning the player’s father David, who was born in Waterford, but England reacted swiftly in capping the playmaker four weeks later in their U-19 UEFA qualifiers. Still, he's entitled to one switch of nationality under FIFA rules.

Crowley’s reputation has risen sharply since Arsenal forked out €500,000 to Aston Villa for the then 15-year-old in 2013. Barnsley boss Lee Johnson rated Crowley as the best 18-year-old he’d ever seen following a goal-scoring display against Everton in a League Cup tie played in August during his loan spell at Oakwell.

While the starlet isn’t expected to challenge for a spot in Ireland's Euros squad, he could be drafted in next month for one of the pre-tournament friendlies against Holland and Belarus.

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