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Kevin Kilbane Thinks Evan Ferguson Is The Future For Ireland

Kevin Kilbane Thinks Evan Ferguson Is The Future For Ireland
Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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It's been a long time since Irish football had as many exciting young talents coming through as there are currently, but Evan Ferguson still manages to sit atop as the most exciting of the lot.

The 18-year-old Brighton star has broken into the first team on the south coast in style, scoring Premier League goals against both Arsenal and Everton - and registering assists in both games - since domestic football returned after the World Cup.

Ferguson is a hugely exciting prospect for the future, and Irish fans and pundits alike are eager to see what he can produce.

The ex-Bohemians striker made his senior international debut in November's friendly against Norway, and there is no doubt there are plenty more caps to come for the Meathman.

Evan Ferguson

17 November 2022; Evan Ferguson of Republic of Ireland during the International Friendly match between Republic of Ireland and Norway at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Ex-Ireland international Kevin Kilbane exclusively told Ladbrokes: Fanzone that he believes Evan Ferguson is the brightest talent to pin Ireland's future hopes on - but said that fans should be patient with all of the young talent at Stephen Kenny's disposal.


Kevin Kilbane pins future Ireland hopes on Evan Ferguson


Speaking to Ladbrokes: Fanzone this week, Kevin Kilbane spoke on the brilliance of young Evan Ferguson.

Kilbane, who won 110 caps during a 14-year Ireland career, said that Ferguson was a player he expected to rise to the top, and that his form up front was encouraging for the Ireland team, who have struggled for goals since Robbie Keane's retirement:

We're looking at Evan Ferguson at Brighton when it comes to Ireland's hope for the future. He's scored in the last couple of weeks against Arsenal and Brighton and has had a really bright start to his career with Brighton's senior team. He's one who we've kept a close eye on over the last few years since his time in Ireland, and I'm really pleased with the faith Brighton have shown in him.

He's already producing for them, he's getting first-team football and has even forced himself into Brighton's starting line-up... so he's the one I'm looking at right now. We've not had a goalscorer - that's something everyone talks about - on an international stage since Robbie Keane.

Ultimately I think Ferguson is the one who could go on and become a very, very good Premier League player. He's still very young, but he's one I'd be looking at and expecting to go far. He shares his surname, and if he goes on to achieve anything similar to what Duncan did, then Evan will have had a very good career.

Evan doesn't need to be thinking about his next move, he's still so young and he's at a great club in Brighton where he's getting more and more exposure, they're putting a lot of trust in him and he's in a really good position there.

Kilbane also lavished praise on Rotherham man Chiedozie Ogbene, one of the stars of Stephen Kenny's reign thus far. Kilbane said that he expects Ogbene to move up through the ranks at club level, and earn a big move through his recent performances.

Nathan Collins

20 November 2022; Nathan Collins of Republic of Ireland before the International Friendly match between Malta and Republic of Ireland at the Ta' Qali National Stadium in Attard, Malta. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

As a former full-back, Kilbane's area of expertise is, of course, defence, and he expects Nathan Collins to be a "really top-class centre-half," while he also praised Dara O'Shea for his recovery from "horrendous injury." O'Shea has returned this season in style, captaining West Brom in a season which has them in play-off contention in the Championship.

Despite the lofty predictions, Kilbane does nonetheless understand the pressure put on the likes of Evan Ferguson, Ogbene, Collins, and O'Shea by such praise. He said that fans should "temper expectations" and allow the players to develop:

Over the years, everyone that comes through is dubbed the next Robbie Keane, or the next Damien Duff. We've got to temper our expectations on these younger players because their exposure to top-class football has been virtually non-existent in a lot of their cases. That's the key, first and foremost.

It is certainly an exciting time for Irish football fans, and the years to come could be special if the young talent in the national set-up comes to fruition.

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