O'Hanlon puts country before Liverpool debut
LIVERPOOL'S rising star Alex O'Hanlon put country before club this week, even though it's cost him his first-team debut at Lansdowne Road tomorrow night.
Brendan Rodgers was planning to reward the 18-year-old's progress by including him in his squad for the friendly against Shamrock Rovers.
The chance to play in his home town before a near-capacity crowd doesn't arise often but the Dubliner says international duties took priority.
"I would have gone with the first-team squad this week but I had to come instead here to play for Ireland," explained the winger ahead of an U-19 double-header friendly against Mexico, the first of which is tonight at Tallaght Stadium (7.00)
"A few of our U-21 squad have been called in by the manager, so it would have been a good experience.
"I've been training with the first-team for the last three-and-a-half weeks which has been a brilliant.
"It's good to be at Melwood training alongside the likes of (Luis) Suarez and (Steven) Gerrard. Whenever I've wanted a bit of help, they've come over and given a few tips."
O'Hanlon, who Rodgers handed a three-year contract extension to last summer, reckons there'll be further opportunities for him at Liverpool.
As the teen has seen his peers like Harry Wilson integrated into Rodgers' squad he's optimistic about his future. Just because Liverpool are now title challengers, it doesn't follow that the manager won't give youth its chance.
"Liverpool are probably the best club in England right now for bringing kids through," claimed the former Shelbourne and St Kevin's Boys player.
"Brendan Rodgers has always brought young players through. If I keep working hard and playing regularly for the club's U-21 team, then maybe I might get a chance in the League Cup next season.
"I've a few years left on my contract, so maybe I'll stay at Liverpool next season and then go out on loan to see what that's like."
Paul Doolin's Ireland side follow up tonight's game with another against the Mexicans on Thursday at Dalymount Park (7.0). Ireland will use these matches as preparation for the UEFA U-19 elite stage qualifiers, which they host later this month.
IRELAND (probable) – Grimes (Leeds Utd); Long (Reading), Baba (Fulham), McFadden (Norwich City), Mosley (Birmingham City); Dimaio (Sheff Utd), Kelly (Reading), Hallahan (West Brom); O'Halloran (Fulham), Byrne (Manchester United), O'Hanlon (Liverpool).