'It's a lot more special for him to play than it is for Patrick Bamford' - Kevin Kilbane on Padriag Amond call-up
Former Ireland international Kevin Kilbane says he'd prefer to see an eager player from England's fouth tier, like Padraig Amond, get a senior cap for the Republic ahead of lukewarm recruits such as Patrick Bamford.
Mick McCarthy included Newport County man Amond (30), and Luton's James Collins, in his provisional squad for the Euro 2020 double header against Gibraltar and Georgia. The selection of a player from England's fourth tier for a competitive international would raise eyebrows, if Carlow native Amond does indeed make the cut.
McCarthy said yesterday that he hopes to meet Leeds United man Bamford next week to speak about a career in the green shirt, but while he has told McCarthy that he is keen to play for Ireland, Bamford has yet to make a public declaration.
Bamford (25) played once for Ireland's U18s, in 2010, but spent the following years in the England underage set-up.
Yet Kilbane feels that Amond's desire to win a senior cap trumps Bamford's lack of speed in declaring for Ireland.
"If you are asking me who I'd have in the squad now, I'd pick Padraig Amond and I can't get away from that because of what it means to Padraig to play," Kilbane said at a Virgin Media TV event in Dublin today.
"If he [Bamford] was picking up the phone regularly to Mick or Mick was ringing him and there was a big push from him, 'I am desperate to come over and play', I'd get on board with it.
"If he gets picked and plays down the line I'd support him, but I still think it's a lot more special for Padraig to play than it is for Patrick Bamford.
"I've not got a problem when they come in and are committed, it's the murkiness of the selection in the first place."
Kilbane was capped by Ireland when he was in the third tier, with Preston North End, and he feels Irish fans can't afford to be snobbish about having players from League One and League Two in the senior panel.
"It's a snobbishness but he [Amond] is in on merit, he is scoring goals, I saw him against Man City a few weeks ago and I could see the problems he was causing them, maybe you think his best years could be behind him but as he has got older, he has never been the quickest player, he has got better and developed, with game know-how, knowing the positions to get into, so I have no problem with him being in the squad, and he is desperate to play for us, he wants to play for us and that means more to me than most things," Kilbane added.
"Is he going to start? Probably not but who's to say he can't make an impact in the team if we need goals late on, if we put him up against Gibraltar I'd be convinced he'd score one or two goals, I'd have no doubt about that.
"Who else was there to pick from? We've not got too many options and he is scoring goals over a number of seasons, albeit at League Two level but he is there on merit.
"I was called up to the senior squad when I was playing in the third tier for English football, with Preston, I couldn't make it as I had an injury so this is not a first and we had players called up from the League of Ireland in my time."
*Kevin Kilbane was speaking at the launch of Virgin Media TV's Spectacular Week of Sport, starting on Saturday at 1pm.