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He has a lot of talent and has performed so well to date - Stephen Kenny on Troy Parrott

Wed, Mar 13 2019

Stephen Kenny Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Brendan Graham reports from FAI HQ in Abbotstown

Stephen Kenny announced his first competitive under-21 squad on Wednesday for the upcoming European Qualifier against Luxembourg due to take place in Tallaght Stadium on Sunday 24 March (kick-off 5pm).

Tottenham striker Troy Parrott was the main talking point following the announcement of the squad and Kenny believes that although the youngster is only 17, from what he has seen, he is definitely ready for this level.

“He is a very talented player who has come right through the structures all the way up and performed at every level,” said Kenny speaking to the media in Abbotstown.

“He has an injury at the moment though, there is a doubt about him for the game but we will assess him between now and then.”

The 17-year-old striker has impressed at every underage level so far excelling at the 2018 under-17 European Championships helping Ireland to reach the quarter-finals and more recently for the under-19 team where his steady progress has continued. He will now get the chance to test himself at under-21 level with Kenny believing he is ready for the step up. 

“You don’t have to be the smartest man in the room to see he is well capable, he has a lot of talent and has performed so well to date at every stage. I believe his steady progress will continue if he keeps going the way he has been going in recent years.”

On the home front, there were eight players from the SSE Airtricity League included in the squad and Kenny stated they are all there on merit and as reward for their performances that he has seen personally himself. 

Darragh Leahy and Dan Mandroiu of Bohemians, Liam Scales and Neil Farrugia of UCD AFC, Waterford's Zach Elbouzedi and Aaron Drinan, Shamrock Rovers' Trevor Clarke and St. Patrick's Athletic midfielder Jamie Lennon have all been named in the squad to take on Luxembourg. 

Former Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu also is in the squad. The 17-year-old Manchester City player is one of two ‘keeper scalled up with Liverpool netminder Caoimhin Kelleher also included.

Kenny informed the media that there were a number of other players that have been noted and were close to inclusion but at the moment he is happy with the balance he now finds himself with within the squad based on recent performances.

On the SSE Airtricity League representation, Kenny said “The new players that have come in are in on merit and based on their consistency with their performances, we want to reward them for the performances and from what we have seen and that is what we have done.

“It is also important we have a good balance in the squad and pick players who complement each other in different positions across the pitch.”

The UEFA U21 European Championships finals tournament will expand from 12 teams to 16 teams for the first time. The finals, which are set to take place in Hungary and Slovakia in June 2021, will now have four extra teams in the finals competition, something which Kenny believes is definitely a positive and in itself presents an extra opportunity.

“We’ve never qualified as a nation for the U-21 European Championships, with the sixteen teams it gives us a greater chance and increases opportunity to some degree. It gives everyone a very good opportunity.”

Republic of Ireland U21 squad v Luxembourg

Goalkeepers: Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City)

Defenders: Darragh Leahy (Bohemians), Dara O'Shea (Exeter City, on loan from West Bromwich Albion), Barry Cotter (Ipswich Town), Corrie Ndaba (Ipswich Town), Conor Masterson (Liverpool), Lee O'Connor (Manchester United), Trevor Clarke (Shamrock Rovers), Liam Scales (UCD AFC)

Midfielders: Jayson Molumby (Brighton and Hove Albion), Jake Doyle Hayes (Cambridge United, on loan from Aston Villa), Connor Ronan (FC DAC 1904, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers), Jamie Lennon (St. Patrick's Athletic), Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Dan Mandroiu (Bohemians)

Attackers: Adam Idah (Norwich City), Troy Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur), Neil Farrugia (UCD AFC), Zach Elbouzedi (Waterford), Michael O'Connor (Linfield), Simon Power (FC Dordrecht, on loan from Norwich City)