Football

Two Irish Defenders Named In The Guardian's Prestigious 'Next Generation' List

Two Irish Defenders Named In The Guardian's Prestigious 'Next Generation' List

Two Irish Under-17 internationals have been named in The Guardian's prestigious 'Next Generation' list.

Since 2014, the British newspaper have selected one player from each Premier League club aged 16 or 17 to keep an eye on. Previous players to make the grade include Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The 2017 list was published on Tuesday afternoon with Dublin duo Kameron Ledwidge and Nathan Collins getting featured. Both born in April 2001, they play for Southampton and Stoke City respectively.

Both part of the Republic of Ireland Under-17 side that played in the European Championships this summer, they played every minute of the tournament that ended with a quarter-final defeat to England.

Ledwidge's versatility was one of his best strengths according to The Guardian.

A new face at Southampton's Staplewood campus, having joined the club's academy in June of this year, the Republic of Ireland under-17 international ticks all of the boxes for the modern attacking left-back. Strong, athletic and quick across the ground, he is comfortable coming forward with the ball at this feet.

Formerly of St Kevin's Boys in his native Dublin, he starred for his country in last season's Victory Shield. He can also play in central defence and his versatility is considered as a further plus point.

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Collins comes from a footballing family, with his father and uncle both represented Ireland underage.

The teenager's father and uncle, David and Eamonn, captained the Republic of Ireland in youth World Cups (where David, formerly a youth-team player at Liverpool, marked Luis Figo in one match) and Nathan kept up a proud family tradition when he appeared for his country in last summer's under-17 European championship.

Born in Dublin, he played for the celebrated junior club Cherry Orchard before joining Stoke as a first-year scholar in June. Already 6ft 4in, he is a commanding centre-back who is very comfortable on the ball.

It's the third year in a row Irish players have featured on the list. Last year, Gavin Kilkenny from Bournemouth was featured, while Aston Villa's James Finnerty made the grade in 2015.

You can read the full list here.

Daniel Kelly

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