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Collie O'Neill says UCD won't stand in way of Manchester City switches for Ireland under-21 duo Liam Scales and Neil Farrugia

Sat, Apr 27 2019

Farrugia celebrates his goal during Ireland under-21s' 3-0 win over Luxembourg in Tallaght. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

UCD won’t stand in the way of Liam Scales and Neil Farrugia’s aspirations if they’re to agree deals with Manchester City this summer, says manager Collie O’Neill.

The Republic of Ireland under-21 duo are on professional contracts with the Students until the end of the season and would command significant fees if they were to leave.

21-year-old Wicklow defender Scales finished up his degree course on Friday night, shortly before the Student's 2-0 defeat to St Patrick's Athletic, while exciting Dublin winger Farrugia has a year to run on his degree.

France-born Farrugia, who is eligible for Spain and Malta through ancestry, scored on his debut for Stephen Kenny’s under-21s as they saw off Luxembourg in Tallaght last month.

Scales was also selected in the squad but remained on the bench behind the imposing Liverpool defender Conor Masterson and West Bromwich Albion’s Dara O’Shea.

O’Neill revealed that the Premier League champions have been in touch in recent weeks about taking the duo on trial.

The Drogheda man confirmed that contact had been initiated by Manchester City rather than by the players, local scouts having been impressed by their domestic and international form.

“All’s I know on it so far is Manchester City have made contact with the club and it’s still ongoing,” O’Neill told extratime.ie.

“They made contact with us and made enquiries about the players. Where it’s at at the moment, I’m not too sure.”

O’Neill stressed that what the players do over the summer transfer window is ultimately down to them and the club will back whatever decision they make regardless of the effect on the first team.

“We always do what’s best for the players. It will always be their decision. If they choose themselves that they want to go, we’ll happily support what the players want to do.

“Scales is finished his degree course today. Today is his last day in the college. Farrugia has another year to go. It will always be the players’ decision.”

O’Neill has endured the loss of key players at various points over the past few years. Robbie Benson left for Dundalk in 2016, while Georgie Kelly made the same journey last summer.

Defender Maxi Kougun went to Warrenpoint Town last summer, while Greg Sloggett and Daire O’Connor left for Derry City and Cork City respectively in the off-season.

“It always happens. Look at what we had last year. We last Georgie Kelly during the window. We lost Maxi, we lost Greg Sloggett, Daire O’Connor.

“It’s a conveyor belt – it happens over and over again.”

UCD face Sligo Rovers in a relegation six-pointer on Monday evening before facing bottom-of-the-table Finn Harps on Friday.