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Serie A man Festy Ebosele ‘excited’ by U-21 call despite disappointment of playoff snub


Festy Ebosele during a Republic of Ireland U-21 training session. Image: Sportsfile.

Festy Ebosele during a Republic of Ireland U-21 training session. Image: Sportsfile.

Festy Ebosele during a Republic of Ireland U-21 training session. Image: Sportsfile.

SERIE A man Festy Ebosele is over the disappointment of his omission from the Ireland U-21 side last year and will report for duty for a friendly at home to Iceland next week, manager Jim Crawford believes.

The 20-year-old has played in the last two league games for Udinese but even though he was in the senior Ireland squad in the June series of the Nations League last summer, he will not be included when Stephen Kenny names his panel tomorrow for the double header against Latvia and France as he’s been selected for U-21 duty, a friendly against Iceland in Cork.

Ebosele played just ten minutes as a sub for the U-21 side against Israel in the two-legged playoff in September, where Ireland lost out in a penalty shoot-out and he was unhappy with that limited amount of game time, but Crawford has been in contact with the former Derby County player and his commitment remains in place.

“I didn’t have that chat with him. I do know he’s delighted to come in with the 21s," Crawford said when asked if Ebosele had been disappointed by his non-selection by Kenny.

“I spoke to him yesterday and he was over the moon with the call-up. Festy probably would have thought he would have played more minutes against Israel in the play-offs. I just it was a massive game that we needed players who were fit, match fit, to play in a historic game with regards to the 21s level. I do know he was disappointed and that’s a fact. I had to make a decision.

"The phone call I had with him the other day about the Under-21s, he was ecstatic, delighted, and again it gives the Cork public a real opportunity to come down and see the qualities he has.

"He plays in Serie A, he’s played games there, he’s held his own at that level, albeit he’s playing wing back. He’s enjoying it over there, he says that training is real challenging, it’s certainly a lot of more tactical than what he’s been used to.

"But I think that will add to him as a player. I’m looking forward to seeing Festy again, he’s a really nice guy, I remember him growing up in his Joey’s days even when he was a raw winger took him from a Wexford club, and he lit up Sallynoggin with his pace, power and goals. So he’s delighted to come in and I was happy with that,” added Crawford.

As a batch of players from the most recent U21 campaign are now over-age, Crawford starts off 2023 with a new group. Notts County keeper Tiernan Brooks, who qualifies through his Sligo roots, gets his first-ever Ireland call up while the Cork public will be excited to see striker Tom Cannon, who has made an impact at Preston after a loan move from Everton.

Home-based players Jimmy Corcoran and Matt Healy (Cork City), Johnny Kenny (Shamrock Rovers) and Ollie O’Neill (Derry City) are called up while former Drogheda United man Killian Phillips (on loan to Shrewsbury Town from Crystal Palace) aims for his U21 debut.

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Ireland U21 squad

Goalkeepers: Tiernan Brooks (Notts County), Jimmy Corcoran (Cork City), Josh Keeley (Tottenham Hotspur).

Defenders: Tayo Adaramola (Crystal Palace), Festy Ebosele (Udinese), James Furlong (Motherwell, on loan from Brighton), Anselmo Garcia MacNulty (NAC Breda, on loan from Wolfsburg), Connor O’Riordan (Crewe Alexandra), Sean Roughan (Lincoln City).

Midfielders: Cian Hayes (Fleetwood Town), Matt Healy (Cork City, on loan from Ipswich Town), Joe Hodge (Wolves), Bosun Lawal (Celtic), Killian Phillips (Shrewsbury Town, on loan from Crystal Palace).

Forwards: Sinclair Armstrong (QPR), Tom Cannon (Preston North End, on loan from Everton), Johnny Kenny (Shamrock Rovers, on loan from Celtic), Andrew Moran (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ollie O’Neill (Derry City, on loan from Fulham), Armstrong Okoflex (West Ham United).

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