Red Devil McGinty eager to shine as King looks to unearth new gems
A NEW cycle begins for Ireland U-21 manager Noel King (right) at Tallaght this afternoon as his side bid farewell to a number of stars and look to the future.
With Jeff Hendrick, Greg Cunningham and Robbie Brady in the senior squad for tonight's game against Poland, King is looking at fresh options for the European qualifiers that begin next August.
The promotion of his best players is part of the job, but he must be delighted to name Everton's Shane Duffy as his captain for the visit of Holland to Dublin 24.
Duffy is likely to be partnered by Manchester United youngster Sean McGinty, a player who missed out on the 2011 U-19 European Championships when Paul Doolin opted not to select him, and he has not featured since.
Although he is English-born, McGinty says he never contemplated going back to the England set-up and is delighted to have his chance to impress at U-21 level.
"I'm with Ireland since I've been 15. I was captain for three years and just because (the) manager mightn't like me as footballer or person, it doesn't mean I'd switch teams," he said.
"Ireland gave me my chance. It was from playing for Ireland that helped get the move to Manchester United and I don't think I'd ever switch (to England)."
Under contract at Old Trafford until the end of next season, the Maidstone native is hoping that training against first-team regulars brings his game on and gives him an opportunity. He spent part of this season on loan at Carlisle United, but didn't get the game time he wanted.
"I train most weeks with the first team and there's always the opportunity of playing with Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney. It's great experience being around them," he said.
"Hopefully, I can take that into this week.
"I could be going back on loan towards the end of next month but I'm not sure where yet. First-team football is far better than playing for the reserves and, if there's any opportunity, I'll definitely take it.
"It does give you hope when the likes of Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck, and even Jonny Evans, break through from the youth system."
King's side come up against a Dutch side preparing for this summer's European Championships and will test new Irish players like St Patrick's Athletic's Chris Forrester.
Four of their players have already tasted first-team action for Ajax, while a host of others are regulars at other clubs in the Netherlands.
It will serve as a good test for King's side, who face a difficult qualifying campaign at the end of the summer. After his prized gems were picked off by Giovanni Trapattoni, King is hoping to unearth a few more today.