Friday 22 September 2017

Ireland 'keeper gets City call for Champions League trip

Ian Lawlor will act as back-up to Joe Hart and reserve custodian Costel Pantilimon
Ian Lawlor will act as back-up to Joe Hart and reserve custodian Costel Pantilimon

John Fallon

MANUEL PELLEGRINI has handed Dublin teenage goalkeeper Ian Lawlor a dream Champions League ticket.

Ireland's U-19 'keeper was last night promoted to Manchester City's first-team squad for tomorrow's visit to Plzen.

The 18-year-old had been due to face the Czech outfit in UEFA's new youth version of the Champions League.

However, the latest masterclass he produced for City's U-21s at Upton Park last Friday night prompted Patrick Vieira to alert his senior chief.

And Pellegrini has decided the 6'5" tall Irishman deserves the chance to travel with the first-team today.

Lawlor will act as back-up to No 1 Joe Hart and reserve custodian Costel Pantilimon at the Struncovy-Sady Stadium.

It won't be the first time for the Dubliner to rub shoulders with City's expensively assembled first-team players.

He was just 16 when Roberto Mancini invited him on a pre-season tour to Austria. A new two-year contract soon followed.

Both Pellegrini and Vieira have so far resisted the urge to allow Lawlor to move on loan in the face of intense interest from lower league clubs.

Its felt the experience the teenager is gaining from working alongside England goalkeeper Hart in training is more beneficial for the time being.

At a time when no Irish outfield player features in an English Premier League squad for the Champions League, Lawlor's sudden elevation represents a boost.

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