Football

The Irish Youngster To Watch Out For At Every Premier League Club

The Irish Youngster To Watch Out For At Every Premier League Club

In the long term, the Premier League is not the way to go. With English football's current problems reaching boiling point, that has become clearer than ever. Having said that, the reality of the situation is that even the most successful transition to a home-based model of player development is not going to happen overnight, it may not even happen inside the next decade.

As things stand, Ireland's most talented young players are, for the most part, either being produced by England clubs from a young age or being exported to England at 16. It's a way of life that is hopefully beginning to change but there's a full crop of young footballers currently going through the grind of the 'academy generation' and, at the moment, that's still where Ireland's immediate future is likely to be developed.

So, in spite of all the problems, what is the next crop looking like? The reality is that, at this time of year, there are some hard truths for young footballers to face up to. Academy contracts come to an end and professional terms aren't forthcoming. As such, there's been quite a bit of change since we outlined the next crop in 2016.

Players move on, they drop out of the Premier League, they move home to Ireland and, unfortunately, some leave football entirely. It's hard to take but that's just how it works at this time of year. The stocks replenish and there's a whole host of 16-year-olds waiting in the wings to sign an academy prospect. Here are some of the most exciting Irish youngsters at every Premier League club.

Arsenal - Nathan Tormey 

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In another world, Dan Crowley and Marcus Agyei-Tabi may be the most hyped Irish players who have come through at Arsenal, but having appeared for Ireland at underage level they've both since switched allegiance to England. Instead, we'll turn our attention to one of the new crop of academy players that have signed a deal with Arsenal this year.

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An Ireland U16 international, Nathan Tormey made the breakthrough from u16 to u18 level with Arsenal last season and was promptly rewarded with a scholarship earlier this year. An impressive turn of pace and plenty of ability with the ball at his feet, it may take a few years but he could well be on to keep an eye on.

Bournemouth - Mark Travers 

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Following the sale of Josh O'Hanlon to Saint Patricks' Athletic, the Irish player to watch at Bournemouth is a goalkeeper: Mark Travers. The Lucan-born 'keeper has played with the Republic of Ireland at under-16 and under-18 level, and was awarded with a one-year academy contract by Bournemouth having impressed on a one-year trial.

 

Burnley - Khius Metz

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An 18-year-old striker that has represented Ireland up to u19 level, Metz was recently offered a contract extension at Turf Moor that will see him promoted from the u18 setup to the club's Development Squad ahead of their return to the Premier League this season.

Chelsea - n/a

None. Patrick Bamford may have played for Ireland at u18 level but that ship has sailed long ago.

Crystal Palace - Kian Flanagan 

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The second Irish international on that list of the Guardian's most hyped Premier League kids, Kian Flanagan is certainly one to watch out for with transfer talk already coming from the likes of Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal. The only problem is that Flanagan is one who could be on the hook for an international tug of war in the near future.

He's played and scored for Ireland u17s as recently as September but the impressive attacking midfielder is on the radar of the England underage setup and it's no surprise when you consider how much of a buzz has been created around him already.

Everton - Steven Kinsella 

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There's plenty of Irish interest in the Everton first team and that continues through to the underage setup. Striker Sam Byrne and midfielder Harry Charsley have both made their mark for Everton u21s having represented Ireland youth teams at various levels.

17-year-old Steven Kinsella may have the most to offer however after Everton won the race to sign him back in January 2014. Since then the former Templeogue United winger has been impressing and, having represented Ireland u17 at just 15, hopes are high that he can kick on and join the likes of Seamus Coleman in the Everton first team.

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Hull City - Brian Lenihan 

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Like Tommie Hoban below, it's difficult to consider Lenihan in the same context as some of the younger players on this list. He has experience on his side but the Corkman is still just 22 and, with Hull returning to the Premier League this season, it could be a huge year in his development.

He's been involved with the Ireland senior squad a couple of times and, if he's going to make the breakthrough in England, it may be now or never for Lenihan.

Leicester - Dylan Watts 

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Last season, Leicester became perhaps the least Irish winners of the Premier League winners ever, but have happily moved to address that since. In September they signed 19-year-old UCD forward Dylan Watts, just three months after Watts sat his Leaving Cert. Watts started out with St Joseph's Boys, Sallynoggin, before spending a year with St Kevin's Boys before joining UCD's under-19s.

Watts has made six appearances for Ireland's under-18s.

Liverpool - Conor Masterson

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For all the Premier League's up-and-coming Irish talent, Liverpool may have the best crop to pick from. Daniel Cleary was involved with the first team last season but he was released last month alongside fellow Irish international Alex O'Hanlon. Liverpool can still boast defender Corey Whelan, goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher and highly rated attacker Glen McAuley among their academy prospects.

Having said all that, we'll have to highlight Conor Masterson's significant potential. A dominant centre-half with quite a bit of ability on the ball, Masterson has played further forward but he's really making a name for himself at Anfield as a centre back. He's become a key player in the U18 setup something which resulted in Jurgen Klopp turning to him to take a place on the bench in the FA Cup against Exeter last season.

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His progression continues: Masterson was included by Klopp in Liverpool's mid-season training camp in La Manga last month.

Man City - Tyreke Wilson

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Unfortunately, things didn't work out for Jack Byrne at City. His loan at Cambuur in Holland set expectations high, but his next move - a loan to Blackburn - proved a disaster, with minimal playing time meaning Byrne left the club prematurely. The manager Owen Coyle followed swiftly out the exit door. Byrne then moved to Wigan on a permanent deal, where he will work under Warren Joyce, the former reserve team manager at Man United.

Another Irish youngster to leave City of late is Ian Lawlor. The goalkeeper impressed during a loan spell with Bury last season, saving a penalty on his debut, and returned to the club to train under Pep Guardiola during pre-season. He cut his ties with City in January, however, and signed a permanent deal with Doncaster Rovers, under Darren Ferguson.

That means that Irish hopes at City are pinned on Tyreke Wilson, who signed a four-year deal with the club back in August, joining from Cherry Orchard. At just 16, Wilson has already made appearances for City's under-18s and is described on City's website as an attacking full-back.

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Man United - Lee O'Connor

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The young man that got the move that so many dream of. Waterford youngster Lee O'Connor will move to Old Trafford when he turns 16 next month. O'Connor, who has captained the Ireland u16 side made the step up to u17 level when he was part of the squad that took on Switzerland in a friendly in the RSC back in March.

O'Connor, who moves from Villa FC in Waterford, will join fellow Irish defender, Jimmy Dunne, who moved to Old Trafford in 2013 on a four-year contract. A tall centre back, 18 year old Dunne was part of the Man United academy in Belfast before he was offered the contract to move over to Manchester on his 16th birthday.

Middlesbrough - n/a

None. No one in the first team. No one that we know of in the youth setup. Relegation awaits.

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Southampton - Thomas O'Connor 

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Southampton's academy has a pretty good reputation and if 16-year-old Thomas O'Connor can have half the career of the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then he won't be doing too bad at all.

The sole Irish representative in the Saints' youth ranks, the former New Ross Celtic youngster has largely played for Ireland in defence but he's equally adept in central midfield. He has made his mark, and scored this pearler at Old Trafford in the FA Youth Cup:

Stoke - Shola Ayoola

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Stoke have plenty of Irish talent filling up the first team squad and, up until this summer that trend continued all the way down to the youth setup either. Bobby Moseley, Ryan O'Reilly and Mason Watkins-Clark were all part of Stoke's U21 squad but the Irish trio have been released over the past month leaving we've u18 striker Shola Ayoola as Ireland's sole representative in the Stoke academy.

The former Cherry Orchard youngster made the move to Stoke last summer having represented Ireland at U16 level. He's been described as a 'strong, quick striker who loves to run in behind and also has the physical presence to trouble defenders.'

Sunderland - James Talbot

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Perhaps it's the carryover effect of the Sundireland era of Quinn and Keane but there's a healthy dose of Irish youth making its way through the youth teams on Wearside. Dan Casey, Jean-Yves Poame and Avis Ganiyu are all highly rated Irish youth internationals making their way in the club's youth setup but it's to the goalkeeping ranks we'll look.

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At 18, James Talbot's is a former FAI Schoolboy of the Year and with good reason. The Ireland U19 goalkeeper has moved up to become Sunderland's U21 side and with Jordan Pickford moving through to the first team there's every chance that Talbot will be able to establish himself at that level and hopefully push on from there.

Swansea - Ross Treacy

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Another goalkeeper, the 17-year-old from Meath moved to Swansea last summer having made his debut for Ireland U17 back in August 2014. If the Aston Villa duo of James Finnerty or Kevin Toner don't become the first Meathman to represent Ireland, then perhaps Treacy could grab that accolade if he keeps going the way he is.

Irish midfielder Tom Holland is a teammate of Treacy in the Swansea U18 setup having moved to south Wales after he left Man City earlier in 2015.

Tottenham - Thomas McDermott

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Perhaps the Irish goalkeeping situation is not so dour after all. The third goalkeeper in a row to get a mention here, Thomas McDermott (left above) is the only Irish representative at the Spurs academy.

The 18-year-old from Strabane had represented Northern Ireland at underage levels but made the move to the Republic youth setup ahead of the Euro U17 Youth Championship last summer. He made his debut for Spurs U18 on the last day of the 2014-15 season.

Watford - Tommie Hoban

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Significantly more established than most of the players on this list, Hoban has been on the fringes of Watford's first team for a while now and with a bit more luck will surely make his full Ireland debut sooner rather than later.

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He was a key player in Watford's promotion push, but has fallen out of the picture somewhat in the Premier League, and has been sent on loan to Blackburn by Walter Mazzari. Besides Hoban, Sean Murray is another Irish U21 international on the fringes of the Watford first team.

West Brom - Zachary Elbouzedi

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One to really keep an eye on, the 19-year-old from Dublin has got a lot of people talking and for all the right reasons. Without a doubt one of the most skillful attacking midfielders to come out of Ireland in recent years, Elbouzedi was one of Ireland's best performers at the U17 European Championships in Bulgaria.

He's joined in the West Brom youth ranks by defenders Robbie McCourt and Shaun Donnellan.

West Ham - Josh Cullen

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Having already made his Premier League debut against Liverpool at the start of last season, Josh Cullen is easily one of the most exciting talents in the Irish underage system. Currently on loan at Bradford, the 20-year-old represented England at U16 level before switching to Ireland and making his way up through to the U21s.

Given the buzz around his performances for West Ham it's quite likely the Irish management will be doing everything they can to ensure the central midfielder sticks around for the foreseeable future. Outside Cullen, midfielders Declan Rice and Anthony Scully are part of West Ham's U18 setup.

It must be said that we can't expect all of those players to come through and represent Ireland at senior level. The reality of the situation is that quite a few of them may still fail to make it as professional footballers at any level but, having said that, it is reassuring to know that for all the faults of the Irish youth system, there is still quite a bit of talent to rely on in the coming years.

SEE ALSO: Paul Lambert Tips Ireland U21 Captain For Success After Solid Showing For Blackburn

SEE ALSO: Irish Striker Finally Gets His Big Move After A Hell Of A Performance On Loan

Gary Reilly

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