Five to follow: Young guns on the rise to give Ireland hope for bright future
A number of talented young Irish players showcased their talent tonight in the under-21s 1-0 win over Armenia. Here are the names we should be following.
Style: Mauricio Pochettino views him as a Harry Kane understudy, and Parrott is developing physically. He can play through the middle or as the more withdrawn striker in a front two.
Where could he fit in? David McGoldrick is a versatile forward and Parrott could be a younger alternative or a potential partner.
Style: Obafemi is lightning fast, a front man who can operate off the shoulder of the last defender. He’s only 5ft 7in but is deceptively strong.
Where could he fit in? He would be a more direct right-sided option than Callum Robinson in a 4-5-1 but that would seriously test his defensive aptitude in a team that doesn’t own the ball.
Style: He’s a different type of personality but there are shades of Damien Duff in his running style and ability to dribble and take on players. Connolly is arguably more of an attacker than a winger per se.
Where could he fit in? Would be an option off the bench to replace James McClean, posing a more subtle threat even if he wouldn’t be nearly as aggressive. McClean did help rescue a point on Thursday.
Style: Ronan – injured at the moment – is on loan with Slovakian side Dunajská Streda for the second successive campaign. Well-suited to the European game as a link between midfield and attack.
Where could he fit in? McCarthy is looking to Alan Judge for creative inspiration, feeling he is superior to Jack Byrne as a number 10. Ronan would be the younger version, a Wes Hoolahan type of performer.
Style: The central midfielder has broken into the Derby side under Philippe Cocu. Cocu has praised his energy and skill, but he’s still a work in progress and didn’t even start for the U-21 side last night, so he’s a longer-term plan
Where could he fit in? He’s another midfield option that could play in an advanced role, as a more aggressive version of Ronan in a particular system.
and not forgetting...
Ayodeji Sotona (Manchester United)
The 16-year-old Irish international has been revealed as the fastest player at Manchester United. Sotona was clocked at an astonishing 22.9mph (36.9kmh) at a recent speed test in Carrington, more than 1.2mph ahead of Diogo Dalot, with Marcus Rashford (22.18mph), Daniel James (22.07mph) and Tahith Chong (22.36mph) all behind him. Highly-rated Sotona has progressed from the U-16s to the U-18 ranks at United and is a former U-14 sprint champion in Ireland. He was born in Mullingar and is of Nigerian descent and also qualifies to play for England.