Down the years the Irish football team has benefited greatly from procuring talent from across the border, but now it seems that, for once, the shoe is on the other foot. The Sunday Times are reporting that Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is interested in bringing former Ireland underage player Sean Scannell into his international setup.
Scannell who has recently been recalled to Huddersfield Town from his loan at Burton Albion, made 25 appearances for Ireland at underage level. Scannell had also been called into Ireland squads under Giovanni Trappatoni, but the 27-year-old failed to make an appearance for Ireland under the Italian.
The winger was recalled from his Burton Albion loan after suffering a groin injury. O'Neill had hoped to introduce the London born footballer into his squad for their upcoming friendly with South Korea, but a further injury, sustained while playing with Huddersfield's U23s has meant that any potential call-up will not happen until Northern Ireland's summer tour of Central America.
Scannell's agent Eric Walters has spoke positively of any potential switch:
There is genuine interest there but nothing has been confirmed as yet about Sean playing for Northern Ireland. I’m sure that Sean will look forward to having a conversation (with Michael O’Neill) when the time is right.
The development is a change, albeit not a massively significant one for Ireland, Scannell is clearly out of favour at Huddersfield, having not featured significantly for the club since their 2015/16 season.
Over the years Ireland have had the good fortune of persuading Northern Irish players such as Shane Duffy, James McClean, Darron Gibson and Mark Wilson to declare for the Republic, and fans could hardly begrudge O'Neill's attempt to bolster his squad ahead of the League Of Nations and Euro 2020 qualification.
The story continues the trend of O'Neill's recruitment drive, the former Shamrock Rovers boss has also picked Jordan Jones of Kilmarnock and George Savage of Millwall for recent World Cup qualifiers. Both players qualify to play for Northern Ireland through the grandparent and parent rule respectively.