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Irish boys impress Mourinho to stay in battle for Milan contract

Three Irish teenagers are still in the running to land a dream contract with Italian football club, Inter Milan.

Gavin Colton (16), Connor Smith (16) and Craig Walsh (17) have impressed the coaches on reality show Football's Next Star.

The Irish youngsters were put through ahead of their English competitors -- while the only Scottish contestant was sent home.

Reece McGillion (16) was given his marching orders by Inter youth coach Marco Monti after failing to impress in a crucial final day match.

Strong performances by the Irish participants at the club's famous Interello training camp have consistently impressed the judges.

The youngsters even caught the eye of Inter manager Jose Mourinho, whose team last night beat city rivals AC Milan to go nine points clear on top of Serie A.

They are now among the seven remaining finalists fighting for a professional contract with Inter.

However, all contestants incurred the wrath of coach Monti following a poor training session last night.

Dubliner Craig said: "Marco's right to have a go today -- at the end of the day, this is his job. Some of the boys didn't have it...

"You could see they were awake late last night, so we need to settle down tonight and get our game heads on."

During training, Craig was praised for his natural ability.

He was singled out for praise by host -- former Liverpool and England player Jamie Redknapp.

Redknapp encouraged the up-and-coming player to make the most of his opportunity.

In a recent episode, Redknapp took Craig aside to talk to him about being homesick.

Craig admitted it was "hard dealing with the heat and the homesickness" in Italy but he got over it and believes the experience has made him a stronger person.

Open to all 16 to 18-year-old footballers, Football's Next Star offers the winner a season's contract with the reigning Italian champions.

The remaining hopefuls do battle next Sunday on Sky 1.