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Toulon on agenda for U-21 side after FAI make late call

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Niall Quinn. Photo: Sportsfile

Niall Quinn. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Niall Quinn. Photo: Sportsfile

Niall Quinn has said the Ireland U-21 side will be entered in this summer's Toulon Tournament after the FAI committed to finding the funds.

It was expected that they would miss out on the competition due to cash constraints brought about by a year of turmoil.

But Quinn told a Q&A in Dundalk last night that Toulon was on the agenda, with the FAI looking to put funds aside for taking part.

U-21 boss Stephen Kenny feels that participation in that event last summer was vital for the development of the players that took part.

"Hopefully it (application) will be in time," said Quinn. "We will be going to Toulon, we have to do that."

Kenny and Quinn were speaking as the National Football Exhibition visited Dundalk as the latest stop on its tour.

Capacity

They will have to talk in a professional capacity soon to determine plans for the remainder of the year with Kenny reluctant to get drawn into a chat about what may happen if Mick McCarthy's Ireland side don't get through the Euro 2020 play-offs next month.

In that event, it's likely that Kenny will assume control straight away given that his U-21 side don't have a competitive game between March and October - although the Toulon application presents a possible complication.

But Kenny was coy on the timeline, or where Ireland assistant Robbie Keane may stand in his future plans given that he was awarded a four-year contract by ex-CEO John Delaney.

It's understood that Kenny will have control over the identity of his backroom staff and Keane's situation will therefore have to be resolved.

"The key thing is that the senior international team have a good chance of qualifying for the Euros, I don't think anyone is thinking about anything else," said Kenny.

"I think everyone is trying to focus on qualifying. I'm not having discussions other than that. I'm trying to qualify for the U-21 tournament and the senior international team is trying to qualify for the tournament. Why view it negatively? I wouldn't like to enter that conversation. We're just focused on qualification

"These are things to be decided. Obviously, there is a new board, a new CEO. We're in initial discussions. Everything will be judged in due course.

"Listen, you see Robbie's statistics out there, his goals for Ireland," continued Kenny when asked specifically about Ireland's record goalscorer. "An amazing player. From my point of view, we're looking out for the senior team qualifying for the Euros. Hopefully it (discussion) is after the Euros. That would be brilliant."

The Ireland manager-in-waiting said he was relaxed about Troy Parrott failing to secure a loan move from Spurs in the January window, a development which may ironically benefit Kenny as McCarthy has said he will not include him in March if he hasn't played any football.

"Troy just turned 18 the other day. He's got time on his side and who's to say he won't break into the Spurs first team this season because the window went and they didn't sign a centre-forward so he's probably only one injury away from at least having an impact off the bench," said Kenny.

"And then you never know because they are still in a lot of competitions. I wouldn't rule out Troy featuring for Spurs this year."

Meanwhile, the former Dundalk boss suggested that his old employer's period of dominance at the top of the League of Ireland is set to continue because of the backing their American owners have given his successor Vinny Perth.

"The squad is very, very strong, and there is great infrastructure behind the scenes and great resources," said Kenny.

"I think it will be a period of sustained success for Dundalk over the next few years. With Peak6 in and getting involved in the club so much, they look geared to be successful over a period of years.

"It's five out of six but that could go on for a number of years. Once you get past your second title and get three - you look at Juventus, Bayern Munich, Ajax, Celtic - you can go on and dominate. That's more usual than unusual these days. When you do well in Europe, you can reinvest that and it gives you greater opportunity again.

"There could be a period of domination for Dundalk. But Shamrock Rovers have a lot of good resources too behind the scenes, with good players and they will challenge."

Irish Independent