John Aldridge insists Evan Ferguson hype ‘inevitable’ as ex-Ireland striker compares teenage star to Harry Kane
Ireland striker Evan Ferguson is only starting his international career, but the plaudits are mounting up for the 18-year-old marksman.
Former England captain Gary Lineker declared he was a fully signed up member of the fan club gathering around the Brighton striker and now Ireland goal scoring great John Aldridge has joined the chorus.
Sunday World columnist Aldridge has hailed Ferguson as a striker who can lead the Ireland line for the next decade and suggests he has qualities that remind him of Harry Kane.
England captain Kane broke his nations’s goal scoring record as he fired the winner for England in their Euro 2024 qualifier against Italy on Thursday.
Now Aldridge has given a glowing endorsement to Ireland wonder-kid Ferguson as he compared him to the Tottenham striker.
"Evan Ferguson could be an Irish version of Harry Kane," declares Aldo. "He reminds me of Kane in so many ways and that is a big compliment.
"We don't want to put too much pressure on the lad at 18, but the hype is inevitable as we have been waiting a long time for an Irish striker to break through.
"I really like what I've seen from him at Brighton. His movement off the ball is so good for a kid of his age and his finishing is top class.
"I see some of myself in him as well. He likes to play on the shoulder of centre-backs and seems to have great timing on his runs for a player who is so young.
"It’s early days, but Ireland have been crying out for a striker who can score goals at the highest level and we can be optimistic that Evan could answer the call.”
Ferguson became the youngest man since Robbie Keane to score for the Republic when he found the back of the net in Wednesday’s 3-2 friendly victory over Latvia at the Aviva Stadium having made two brief appearances as a substitute in November.
However, with his Ireland career still very much in its infancy, Ferguson swiftly turned his attention to Monday night’s opening Euro 2024 qualifier against superstar Kylian Mbappe and company and the task of repeating the feat when it matters most.
He said: “I don’t think there is much better feeling than scoring at home with family and friends watching, there is no other way to describe it.
“But now it’s just try and go on and think about the France game, and see if I can get another one.”
The clamour for Ferguson to be given his chance has grown in recent weeks after a return of six goals in 13 games for Brighton, two of them in Sunday’s 5-0 FA Cup quarter-final victory over Grimsby.
Comparisons to Keane, who made his senior debut as a 17-year-old and scored his first goals – two of them – in a 5-0 World Cup qualifier win over Malta three months after his 18th birthday, are inevitable.
The former Wolves, Coventry, Inter Milan, Leeds, Tottenham, Liverpool and LA Galaxy frontman went on to plunder a national-record 68 in 146 appearances for Ireland to set the bar impossibly high for those who follow.
For Ferguson, the task is simply to establish himself in Stephen Kenny’s squad, although it would be no surprise if he had some involvement against Didier Deschamps’ France as his meteoric rise continues apace.
Asked about the prospect of lining up against Mbappe, he said: “They are all good players, you know what I mean, so I think we just have to try our best.
“We are probably going to have to double up on whatever we can see. But I don’t think we should be too worried.”