Wilson aiming to come of age
MARK WILSON is determined to make the most of his chance in the Republic of Ireland's U-21 friendly international in Luxembourg tonight.
The Portsmouth midfielder - one of a host of new faces in the Irish squad - played for the Irish U-19s last season but didn't make the squad for the final UEFA Championship qualifying round in Serbia in May. That gives him an added incentive to answer the challenge laid down by manager Don Givens to prove that's he's good enough to make the step up.
Wilson is one of four players in manager Don Givens' thoughts who could have played for Northern Ireland. The Lurgan-born youngster was capped at U-15 level for the North but is now committed to the Republic.
Tony Kane and Michael O'Connor also recently made the same switch, while Manchester United's Derry-born Darron Gibson, now on-loan at Royal Antwerp, has always played for the Republic.
Wilson claimed that there was no underlying reason for the trend. He said: "I think everybody has their own personal reasons for wanting to play for the Republic or the North. I grew up supporting the Republic so it was a comfortable decision for me."
Givens is particularly keen to see Arsenal defender Joe O'Cearuill in action for the first time in an Irish shirt.
The manager said: "Joe has really impressed me and you can see he has the hallmarks of an Arsenal player. I watched him play at right-back for the Arsenal reserves against the Charlton first team last week and he didn't put a foot wrong."