Report: Northern Ireland U21 International To Switch Allegiances To The Republic

Report: Northern Ireland U21 International To Switch Allegiances To The Republic

Players lining out for Northern Ireland at underage level and then going on to declare for the Republic of Ireland at senior level has become increasingly common in recent years.

The likes of Shane Duffy and James McClean are well-known examples, with the IFA continuing to struggle to hold onto players who consider themselves republicans.

Little can be done to stop this type of move, with the FAI welcoming any player who wishes to represent the Republic of Ireland. It looks as though we will see another example of this dynamic in action the near future.

The BBC are reporting that former Northern Ireland U21 international Mark Sykes is set to declare for the Republic of Ireland. The Oxford United midfielder has reportedly informed the IFA of his decision and are understood to be 'extremely disappointed'.

Born in Belfast, Sykes has won 11 caps for the North, the most recent of which came in 2018. Since then, he has turned down a call-up to the senior squad on three separate occasions under Michael O'Neill.

He has now ruled himself out of selection for Ian Baraclough's first two games in charge next month, instead eyeing a place in Stephen Kenny's plans.


Sykes joined League One side Oxford United from Glenavon in January of 2019, making 23 league appearances during the shortened 2019/20 campaign. He started and scored in the side's recent League One play-off final defeat to Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley Stadium.

A central midfielder by trade, he will now be hoping to break into the Republic of Ireland senior squad in the coming months.

SEE ALSO: Irish U21 Star Connor Ronan Secures Another Loan Move To The Continent

Gary Connaughton

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