Is Crawford nurturing conveyor belt of Irish talent?

The hot topic at the moment is young Irish players making their first team bows in The Premier League. The likes of Evan Ferguson starting, scoring and assisting last night against Everton and looking so at home and Andrew Moran making his Premier League debut off the bench has made me question are we getting enough out of young players at underage level?

When the next qualifying campaign starts, the next under-21 squad will look completely different with 14 players from that campaign now ineligible. I’m starting to question development because we now see players progressing quicker into first teams at club level than at international level. This may happen as young players can develop quicker than others, but I feel Jim Crawford needs to be cautious when managing the integration of some of our dual nationality players.

Jim Crawford (Image: Irish Examiner)

Out of the two Irishmen to appear for Brighton last night, Ferguson made the senior squad with Moran not even in the under-21 side that took on Israel in the play-offs. Joe Hodge, another to make his Premier League debut this season was only got drafted into the squad due to an injury to Gavin Kilkenny yet Ireland don’t seem to move players up the age grades fast enough despite all the buzz at their clubs. Players develop at different rates but Crawford should surely be able to identify these players who are making such waves at their clubs and considered good enough for first team football in the top flight?

Joe Hodge (Image: The Express and Star)

Last month, Tom Cannon made his Premier League debut for Everton debut and has rarely featured at underage level for Ireland (party due to covid). Could we potential lose talent like this because we choose not to pick them? Armstrong Okoflex should be players that feature strongly in the next under-21 squad but there seems to be some animosity between Okoflex and Crawford . Rocco Vata who made his debut off the bench for Celtic and Kevin Zefi who is currently training with the Inter Milan first team are these players that should perhaps make the leap from under-19 to under-21 but it is hard to know if the duo or indeed Justin Ferijaz (Shamrock Rovers) who all remain eligible for Albania are not promoted despite their evidential progression at club level.

I am interested to hear from other fans about who would you like to see feature in the Ireland under-21 squad this campaign and is Jim Crawford the right person to nurture this conveyor belt of talent. Leave your comments bellow!

Ken, The Green Machíne Podcast
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79 thoughts on “Is Crawford nurturing conveyor belt of Irish talent?”

  1. Dan O Sullivan

    Evan Ferguson seems to be a future star in the making- Joe Hodge the same and he should be in the next Irish squad- forget about the Jeff Hendricks of the world by start calling on the likes of Hodge and Smallbone and cap them for 🇮🇪 they are our future and should be blended in to the squad for the upcoming Euros.
    I love James Maclean & Seamus Coleman as a person and a player but i think now is the time to bring in our young players and play them.

  2. The recruitment process has picked up massively, I scout at an English league 1 club and have contacted the F.A.I a few times about players in the past who are eligible for Ireland but don’t get anything back, I have to say We missed out of a few to Scotland and England which is a shame but the last 18 months I have seen an improvement In players coming through but we do need to be more ruthless and cap these lads ASAP.

  3. I feel like the bar could be set higher for U21 involvement now whereby we should really only be looking at players who are playing regular senior league football if they are to feature. This could make places in the senior team and all the teams below more competitive. Even players in league 2 or 2nd tier in other countries at 20 are further ahead than someone killing it in PL2 where you can clearly see its not as competitive. U19 should be used as way of introducing as many players as possible to an irish “philosophy”, maybe to even run camps in the UK – unfortunately i dont think we have the elite level coaching infrastructure in U19 or U21 to see that through though. I think thats the key reason where we see players drop down the pyramid when they turn 21 or so when their potential indicated that they could play at higher levels. Obviously other factors at play like pay disparity between english clubs and other countries etc.

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