Saturday 20 July 2019

Ireland U21 defender considering switch to Northern Ireland

Jimmy Dunne. Photo: Sportsfile
Jimmy Dunne. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Ireland U-21 defender Jimmy Dunne is understood to be considering an offer to join the Northern Ireland senior squad.

Dundalk-born Dunne is eligible for the North through his grandparents and Michael O'Neill's staff are aware that he's yet to win a competitive cap for the Republic.

That means, unlike Declan Rice for example, the IFA do not need to undergo the time-consuming process of having a transfer application granted by FIFA.

As Dunne has only played a friendly for Ireland, as a substitute for 18 minutes against Iceland in March, he is free to link up with the North for this week's Nations League qualifiers against Austria and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The defender - an ever-present for SPL leaders Hearts on loan from Burnley - was last night left on the bench for Ireland's 3-1 defeat to Israel that ends of their European Championship qualification hopes.

Dunne had been drafted back into the squad following his impressive start to the season in Scotland. The 20-year-old, granted a new contract by Clarets boss Sean Dyche in the summer, has made seven appearances for the Jam Tarts and scored two goals.

Should the former Manchester United apprentice decide to defect, it would an interesting development in the whole debate over dual-eligible players born on the islands of Ireland.

The Irish FA were none too happy that they lost promising talents such as Shane Duffy and James McClean to their neighbours.

Now the tables could be turned, a development that Martin O'Neill is sure to be asked today at his press conference ahead of tomorrow's Nations League game against Denmark.

There was no comment from the IFA nor the FAI about the matter last night.

Irish Independent

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