Tuesday 27 September 2016

U-21 winger Shodipo vows to catch attention of O'Neill

John Fallon

Published 06/09/2016 | 02:30

Shodipo: “Martin O’Neill was at our game on Friday and I was glad at the opportunity of showing what I can do.” Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Shodipo: “Martin O’Neill was at our game on Friday and I was glad at the opportunity of showing what I can do.” Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Despite leaving Dublin for London as a two-year-old Olamide Shodipo always kept in touch with his Irish family, and he could become more widely known in the country of his birth if his football trajectory continues.

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The winger will today earn his second cap in the space of five days against Serbia in Novi Sad (5.0pm, Irish time), just four weeks on from his bow in the English Championship for QPR.

Shodipo still has work left to do on his physical development, a fact Martin O'Neill would have noticed when watching him dazzle Slovenia on Friday, yet at 19 there's time is on his side.

Right now his priority is maintaining Ireland's revival at U-21 level today against a Serbian side boasting full internationals Marko Grujic and Andrija Zivkovic in their armour.

Only another victory today on the back of Friday's win over Slovenia will keep Ireland's chances of finishing second and clinching a European Championship play-off intact heading into next month's concluding fixture against the Serbs in Waterford.

Beyond that, Shodipo is eligible for next U-21 campaign, yet can't help look at the ascent of Callum O'Dowda and consider the possibilities available.

The Bristol City winger has been allowed to drop down from the seniors for today's game, having won his second full cap against Oman last Wednesday.

"Callum has already won senior caps, so it shows the pathway is open for young players. He's set the example for us to follow," said Shodipo.

"Martin O'Neill was at our game on Friday and I was glad at the opportunity of showing what I can do."

This time last year, Shodipo had never played international football at any level.

QPR alerted FAI scout Mark O'Toole about their rising star and soon he was part of the Irish U-19 squad.

"I was born in Leixlip and still visit my relations in Ireland," explained Shodipo. "It's make me and my family proud to wear the Irish jersey."

IRELAND (probable): D Rogers (Falkirk); G Rea (Luton Town), D Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), T Hoban (Blackburn Rovers), S Kavanagh (Fulham); J Byrne (Blackburn Rovers), J Cullen (Bradford City); C O'Dowda (Bristol City), H Charsley (Everton), O Shopido (QPR); S Maguire (Cork City).

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