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Ireland U21 Boss Aims Thinly Veiled Dig At England After Tom Cannon Approach

Ireland U21 Boss Aims Thinly Veiled Dig At England After Tom Cannon Approach
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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Ireland fans were greeted with some familiar news over the last couple of days, with it being confirmed that England had made an approach in an attempt to poach one of our most highly rated young players.

Reports first emerged about a potential FA approach to Tom Cannon on Saturday evening, with Stephen Kenny going on to confirm that the Everton man was considering the proposal.

The striker had been left out of the Ireland U21 squad for their friendlies this week, with it being said at the time that this was down to a recent bout of illness. However, Kenny would go on to say that the player opted to take time away from the Irish setup as he considered his international future.

It remains to be seen what decision the player will ultimately make, with a place in the England U21 squad next season reportedly on offer.

Ireland U21 boss makes England comment after Cannon approach

Prior to this news, it had been said that Tom Cannon was on the verge of a call-up to the Ireland senior squad. The forward was in brilliant form on loan at Preston over the second half of the campaign, with Kenny confirming he was on the standby list for the Euro 2024 qualifiers this month.


You would imagine that he would have been likely to make his senior international debut before the end of 2023, a prospect that seems very unlikely were he to throw his lot in with England.

That is something Ireland U21 boss Jim Crawford is keen to stress to the player as he ponders his next move.


Speaking ahead of their fixtures in Austria this week, Crawford aimed a thinly veiled dig at England over their tendency to heavily recruit players only to then not give them an opportunity at senior level. He believes that this differs quite a bit in comparison to the pathways on offer in the Ireland setup (h/t Irish Independent):

With dual-nationality, there is every chance the other nation will be interested and make an approach. I’m not surprised. He went through a real purple patch with Preston at the end of the season.

Tom is a very good player, what we have here with the Republic of Ireland, is a real sort of concrete pathway with players.

Tom, I always knew that he was going to attract attention, but it’s now up to himself what he wants to do.

For me, there are some countries that are very aggressive in recruiting players, and how many of those players are not playing with the senior team?

I just think it’s something that he has to think about, because we have a lot of positive things happening here with the Republic of Ireland.

I can only use Evan Ferguson as a prime example. We gave him his debut when he was 16 and now he’s playing with the senior team.

I think that should be the north star for any player, to go and play senior international football.

I spoke to Tom before this camp, solely about this camp. I didn’t mention the knowledge that I knew that there was another nation interested...

I’ll talk to him again after this camp...

We always knew he was a very, very good player. He’s never refused a call-up for the Republic of Ireland.

In recent times, quite a few people associated with the Ireland setup have discussed England's aggressive recruitment of underage players, attempting to ensure that any dual-national players born in the country do not commit elsewhere. In other words, the FA do not want to miss out any talents such as Declan Rice or Jack Grealish moving forward.


It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out, with Cannon having every right to assess his options as he makes a decision that could have a big impact on the remainder of his career.

As Crawford points out, it is one that should not be taken lightly.

SEE ALSO: Former Ireland U21 Squad Member Makes International Switch After Call-Up

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