Hawkeye Sidekick

Excitement, potential the keywords after this Republic of Ireland U21’s squad announcement

Exciting talent assembled for this squad training session

Jim Crawford’s Republic of Ireland U21 squad selection for the upcoming training session in Northern Ireland next week has been announced. A lot to get excited about! Hawkeye Sidekick runs the rule over the squad selection.

The training session next week is a prudent move from Crawford and team management with the side currently on top of their group, three points ahead of Italy (having played two games more than the Italians).

Three key fixtures are on tap in October and November with games against Italy, Luxembourg and Iceland. With the squad assembled, hopes are high that the side can finish the qualification in style and advance to the Euro finals.

Goalkeepers: 

  • Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool) – a keeper who experienced first team game time last season for his club. Does he remain at the club or get a loan move to a EFL Championship club to elevate his consistency and performance?
  • Gavin Bazunu (Rochdale, on loan from Manchester City) – a player with a massively bright future. His comments after securing the loan move to Rochdale was positive, a player looking to learn and help his League One side for the upcoming season.
  • Ed McGinty (Sligo Rovers) – a worthy call up. This player has impressed for Rovers this season with standout performances.

Defenders: 

  • Lee O’Connor (Tranmere Rovers, on loan from Celtic) – a player who we all know has the potential. A loan move to Tranmere Rovers means significant game time and a platform to launch his club career. Tidy and compact player with an attacking focus.
  • Danny McNamara (St. Johnstone, on loan from Millwall) – a player who will embrace the SPL loan move. A move where he will work with Callum Davison who knows a thing or two on the art of defending. A move which should productive for the player.
  • Darragh Leahy (Dundalk) – despite the struggles at the club, Leahy continues to develop and progress well since his move from Bohemians.
  • Conor Masterson (QPR) – a stylish center back who finished the season with QPR strong with some standout displays. He needs to push on next season. Competition in the center back looks fierce here.
  • Liam Scales (Shamrock Rovers) – has not put a foot wrong for Rovers this season, mobile and good game reader. A player who will attract interest from across the water soon.
  • Luke McNally (St. Patrick’s Athletic) – a player who continues to develop and impress with his club. A notable call up here and deserved one at that.
  • Nathan Collins (Stoke City) – one of the highlights of Stoke City’s season. A player whose composure belies his age. A player who can only progress further in the game. Michael O’Neill is a big fan of the player.
  • Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion) – surprised that he was not included in the senior squad. He was a prominent performer for WBA last season, chipped in for a few crucial goals to boot. Powerful in the air. EPL bound so his performance and movement will only improve.
  • Thomas O’Connor (Southampton) – the Kilkenny native is well regarded at Southampton and had a successful loan spell with Gillingham last season. Super potential and more to come from this versatile player.

Midfielders: 

  • Dan Mandroiu (Bohemians) – talented ball player, has been hindered by some recent injury problems but his quality is undoubted. Creative force.
  • Jason Knight (Derby County) – a big talent and if you follow this blog, a player I admire. Big things to come from this player whose passing, technical skill and game reading is sensational even at this early age. His shooting from long range is good too. Derby County guidance from Cocu and Rooney can only improve the player further.
  • Jack Taylor (Peterborough United) – a player who has scored twice in eleven games for the Posh. His move from Barnet speaks volumes of the club’s admiration for the player. A player to monitor in this squad and his club form next season.
  • Will Ferry (Southampton) – the coveted youth academy from Southampton has seen Ferry climb up the ladder. Technical astute, several appearances with the club’s U23 squad. Does he go out on loan next season to get to this next level?
  • Will Smallbone (Southampton) – a player who has emerged to the first team of the club. The young player of the club this past season. A player with massive technical ability. I was surprised he was not considered for the senior squad. A player who could see more game time with the Southampon first team next season.
  • Conor Coventry (West Ham United) – a player with massive potential. His loan spell with Lincoln City was successful. West Ham United hold the player in high regard and may loan the player out to advance his career given first team opportunities are at a premium.
  • Connor Ronan (Grasshoppers Zurich, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers) – a key season for Ronan. Grasshoppers are in the Swiss second tier, the football giants are in a period of transition. Ronan is a technically gifted player but is this move going to have the desired effect? I have my doubts. The player’s career club wise looks a little uncertain.

Attackers: 

  • Michael Obafemi (Southampton) – the player has plenty to prove to senior men’s national manager Stephen Kenny who felt the player needed the U21 experience more. Obafemi is big, physical and an eye for goal. He will slot into the squad training camp with the aim of firing the goals to send Republic of Ireland to the Euro finals.
  • Danny Grant (Bohemians) – the Lucan native has scored two goals in his eight league fixtures so far with his club. A player who could secure some game minutes in these qualification campaign fixtures if he continues his good club form.
  • Jonathan Afolabi (Celtic) – a player who is making a fresh start in Scotland. A good move to Glasgow Celtic and his loan move to Dunfermline saw two goals scored in six appearances. Massive potential but the player needs to kick on now but for club and country.
  • Zach Elbouzedi (Lincoln City) – a player who will look to secure more game time for Lincoln City next season, just the five appearances last season. Elbouzedi has been linked with Libya but his media comments suggest he is happy to be with the Republic of Ireland setup.
  • Neil Farrugia (Shamrock Rovers) – Nine appearances for Rovers, a player with massive potential and his form and confidence is high at the moment. Cross water interest as well. Will he impress in this training session cycle to get game time in the qualification fixtures?
  • Ryan Cassidy (Accrington Stanley, on loan from Watford) – The former St Kevin’s Boys forward has been a prominent performer for the Vicarage Road underage teams, spearheaded their FA Youth Cup run last year. Cassidy moves to Accrington Stanley, a move which should be beneficial to both parties. The player is a goalscorer and should prove it once more if given the right service.