Friday 23 March 2018

Powell keen to impress the boss

Neil Ahern

IT'S a far cry from the intensity of a Cup final, but Bohemians star Conor Powell insists that this evening's game against Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland is more than just a training match for the U-23 Airtricity League squad.

Indeed, the left-back decided against joining his Gypsies team-mates as they celebrated their Setanta Sports Cup success last Saturday night, such was the importance of tonight's behind-closed-doors game in his mind.

"The lads had a good night alright," said Powell of his Bohs team-mates, with only a hint of lament, "but I definitely didn't do anything mad. I'm focused now on this game because it is important for us."

It may be but a mere afterthought in the minds of some of the cross-channel stars who will line out for the senior team, but for Paul Doolin's young charges this is a huge chance to prove that they can cut it against players of a higher calibre than that which they face week-in week-out.

Every member of this Airtricity League, after all, is under 23.

Keith Fahey, who starts in midfield for Trapattoni's side tonight, was just shy of 26 when he moved from St Patrick's Athletic to Birmingham City before establishing himself as a Premier League regular and now appears in an Irish shirt for the first time, aged 27.

Hope springs eternal for the young domestic-based squad.

"We're taking it very seriously, it's a great honour to play for your country and you never know who might be watching, obviously the senior manager (Trapattoni) is so everyone's out to impress," Powell said.

"We'll have a lot of respect for the senior lads simply because they've made it into the Irish squad but it doesn't go any further than that. If anything, we'll want to get one over on them because it's the senior team."

Powell himself has previously been earmarked by Trapattoni as a future left-back for Ireland, but he doesn't feel that brings with it any added pressure, although he is eager to prove that the Italian's optimism is well-placed.

"I'm not going to go out and play any different because of it. It's a great honour to get a mention off the senior manager because it means he's having a look and hopefully he'll get a good look in this game and he'll be happy with what he sees."

Doolin's side will meet up for the first time only this morning before playing their first game together later on, but Powell believes the players' familiarity through being in League of Ireland circles will help them overcome that obstacle.

Dundalk's Shaun Kelly has been called into the squad after Galway United's U-21 international Seamus Conneely was forced to drop out due to a thigh injury, while Darren Quigley (elbow) is a doubt.

Irish Independent

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