When Mick McCarty announced his Ireland squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 Qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar, there was was one eye-catching inclusion. Bolton's Luca Connell, an 18-year old midfielder who was born in Liverpool, had not been anticipated to be in the picture for a place in the senior squad as of yet, but he was named on the 27-man list.
It came as a big surprise to Irish football fans, especially when you consider that Connell had not been included in the provisional squad for these fixtures. The inclusion actually came as a surprise to the player himself.
Speaking at Ireland's training base in Portugal, the youngster revealed that Mick McCarthy had only made his interest known last Sunday night, with the squad announced the following day.
Funnily enough, it was only Sunday night the gaffer rang my dad and said he’d be interested, had heard a lot about me, hadn’t seen me live yet but was looking forward to seeing me.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to do. It’s one of those ones, I was confused and it didn’t really sink in until I was on the plane that I was actually coming over to meet the first team squad. It’s crazy, it’s surreal to be honest.
Especially meeting Seamus Coleman, you know. Being from Liverpool but supporting Everton and supporting him through everything, it’s brilliant for me.
I spoke to Seamus last night, he welcomed me in. Being the skipper, that’s part of his job as well, isn’t it. But he’s a lovely, lovely fella. I can’t thank him enough for welcoming me in.
Connell is a very highly rated prospect. He was one of the lone bright spots in a very tough season for Bolton, who were relegated to League One amidst major financial troubles. With his contract expiring next month, it would seem unlikely he will be there next season.
The player has been linked with a number of Premier League clubs, but was very coy when asked about his future today.
I don’t know. I’m leaving that down to my agent. Hopefully he’s sorting that out while I’m away, seeing what’s about and what he thinks is best for me.