Tuesday 16 July 2019

In-demand Connell keen on Armenian adventure

Luca Connell. Photo: Sportsfile
Luca Connell. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Club commitments will rob Tom Mohan of several key players for next month's European U-19 championships but Luca Connell is ready to make the journey.

The versatile Bolton player's profile has soared since his breakthrough at Championship level and call into the Ireland senior squad for the training camp in Portugal.

He was thrust into the eligibility debate then but the FAI are sure he will stay with Ireland.

Indeed, McCarthy was prepared to keep the in-demand Liverpudlian around his squad for the qualifying games until injury struck.

The 18-year-old was at FAI HQ this week as part of a three-day training camp ahead of next month's U-19 Championships in Armenia.

He expects to move club this summer - which could pose a complication - but he wants to be part of Mohan's squad for the elite eight-team event.

"We have a good chance and a good squad so I'm excited about it," said Connell, who added that Jeff Hendrick was a big help to him during his senior stint.

"At the minute, I'm taking it day by day and we will see what happens but I'm pretty certain that I'll be available to go."

Connell said his agent was looking after his future and while he said it would be an 'honour' to play for Celtic in response to a specific question regarding their interest, he has an open mind with a host of Premier League teams keen.

"I'm keeping my options open and hopefully I can get one in the next few weeks," he said.

For the manager Mohan, the fact that the competition doesn't take place during a recognised FIFA window is a headache. Clubs have first dibs.

It's good news for Irish football that Nathan Collins (Stoke), Adam Idah (Norwich), Michael Obafemi (Southampton) and Aaron Connolly (Brighton) are wanted by their respective first teams for pre-season but it's bad for Mohan.

He's also waiting for word on Conor Coventry (West Ham) and Lee O'Connor (Manchester United) while injury issues have complicated things with Spurs starlet Troy Parrott.

Mohan had 34 players in this week to assess options.

"You're frustrated but we had a fair idea this was coming," said Mohan, whose side depart on July 9 and will face Norway, France and Czech Republic.

Irish Independent

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