Irish squad Player-by-player guide


Henderson, one of a lengthy Cabra dynasty of goalkeepers (including father Paddy, brothers Stephen and Dave and nephew Stephen, an Irish under-16 international) has been competing with Brian Murphy since under-14 level for the international goalkeeping jersey, and the battle will continue in the United Arab Emirates.

Wayne Henderson

Position: Goalkeeper

Born: Dublin, 16/9/1983

Club: Aston Villa

Out of contract at Aston Villa at the end of the season, hoping for a loan move after the World Youth Cup to help secure his cross-channel future.

Brian Murphy

Position: Goalkeeper

Born: Waterford, 7/5/1983

Club: Swansea City

Learned his trade at Waterford Bohemians, like John O'Shea. Moved to Manchester City in 2000, but turned down the offer of a new contract last summer and joined third-division Swansea City on a two-year contract, where he has since lost his first-team place after a promising start. Often preferred by Brian Kerr to Henderson, but now in a "50-50" battle with his old rival for the goalkeeping spot under the Gerry Smith regime.

Stephen Kelly

Position: Defender

Born: Dublin, 6/9/1983

Club: Tottenham (on loan at Watford)

The Belvedere old boy, who attracted the interest of Celtic, West Ham, Everton and Chelsea before signing for Spurs three years ago, has been the subject of glowing reviews from four of the managers he has played for in the last 18 months - Irish under-21 boss Don Givens and the managers of Southend, QPR and Watford, where he has had loan spells. "I think Tottenham could have a very exciting player on their hands," said QPR's Ian Holloway last season, shortly before the defender (he can play at right back or in the centre) signed a new deal at Spurs. Near the top of the "most likely to succeed" list of Irish youth players.

John Fitzgerald

Position: Defender

Born: Dublin, 10/2/84

Club: Blackburn Rovers

One of three graduates of St Joseph's Boys' School of Excellence (along with Graham Ward and Eamon Zayed) in the squad, Fitzgerald, a powerful centre half, has been playing international football since under-14 level. His Blackburn contract runs out at the end of the season and, having failed to make a first-team breakthrough so far, he's not expecting to be offered a new deal - hoping, then, to make a big impression in the United Arab Emirates to attract offers come summer.

Paddy McCarthy

Position: Defender

Born: Dublin, 31/5/1983

Club: Manchester City

The Manchester City centre half, who had loan spells at Boston United and Notts County last season, captained the Irish under-16 team at the 2000 European Championships and went on to form a central-defensive partnership with Stephen Paisley in last summer's under-19 tournament in Norway - both players, though, are now competing with John Fitzgerald and Stephen Kelly for places at the heart of the Irish defence in the United Arab Emirates.

Glen Whelan

Position: Defender

Born: Dublin, 13/1/1984

Club: Manchester City (on loan at Bury) It's been an encouraging year so far for the under-20 captain and right back who made his first-team debut for Manchester City in the UEFA Cup at the end of August. Was subsequently loaned to third-division Bury, where he has started nine games, experience he hopes will boost his chances of a breakthrough at City on his return from the World Youth Cup.

Stephen Paisley

Position: Defender

Born: Dublin, 28/7/1983

Club: Longford Town

One of the many young Irish footballers released by their English clubs last summer, Paisley, who joined Manchester City from Cherry Orchard, returned home to join Longford Town. Has represented his country since under-15 level and has already played for the under-21s - will challenge John Fitzgerald, Stephen Kelly and Paddy McCarthy for a place at the centre of the Irish defence.

Seán Dillon

Position: Defender

Born: Dublin, 30/7/83

Club: Longford Town

An impressive character who is a fine advertisement for the Football Association of Ireland's REAP (Reinvention, Education, Appraisal and Preparation) programme, having been one of its first graduates after returning home following his release by Aston Villa. Replaced Newcastle's Stephen Brennan (thigh injury) in the squad, completing a heady few weeks that also saw him win the FAI Cup with Longford Town. Can play anywhere in defence, a versatility that meant he was agonisingly close to selection for the original squad.

Stephen Capper

Position: Defender/midfielder

Born: Dublin, 28/2/1983

Club: Scarborough

Having already played in two European finals (the under-16 and under-19 championships in 2000 and 2002, respectively), Capper is one of manager Gerry Smith's more experienced players, although perhaps not as experienced as the Scarborough website suggests - they have his year of birth as 1232, which makes him 771, putting a question mark over his eligibility for an under-20 tournament. Having been initially told he was being kept on at Sunderland at the end of last season, the full back, who can also play in midfield, eventually fell prey to the cutbacks at the relegated club and moved on to non-League Scarborough.

Liam Kearney

Position: Midfielder

Born: Cork, 10/1/1983

Club: Cork City

Since scoring on his debut for Cork City against Bohemians with a volley from 25 yards the left winger has been the darling of Turner's Cross, where he moved this year after being released by Nottingham Forest. A native of Conna, Co Cork, Kearney, who has represented Ireland from under-16 level up, was one of the under-20s' star performers in Abu Dhabi in January, where he scored twice in a four-nation tournament also featuring the hosts, Korea and France.

Graham Ward

Position: Midfielder

Born: Dublin, 25/2/1983

Club: Kidderminster Harriers

Another of the under-20 squad to suffer the disappointment of being released by his club last season - Ward was let go by Wolves, before being offered a contract by third-division Kidderminster. The combative midfielder was under-19 captain in 2002 but the emergence of David Bell has threatened his place in the under-20 team.

Darren Potter

Position: Midfielder

Born: Liverpool, 21/12/1984

Club: Liverpool

One of only two English-born players in the squad (David Bell is the other), Potter, whose grandparents are Irish, was released by Everton when he was 15, but was signed up by Liverpool, where he is highly regarded - he was promoted from the under-19s to train full-time with the first-team squad in September.

A skilful and aggressive central midfielder, Potter shone in Brian Kerr's last assignment as under-20 manager, when Ireland won an invitational tournament in the United Arab Emirates in January.

Michael Foley-Sheridan

Position: Midfielder

Born: Dublin, 9/3/1983

Club: Liverpool

Like Darren Potter, his team-mate in the Liverpool reserves, Foley-Sheridan has long been rated as a bright prospect at Anfield, although a knee injury has hindered his progress. The midfielder, one of the best passers of a ball in the Irish squad, joined Liverpool from Home Farm when he was 15, at which point, legend has it, he was immediately promoted to training with the Liverpool first-team squad.

Willo Flood

Position: Midfielder

Born: Dublin, 10/4/1985

Club: Manchester City

He's only 18, the youngest player in the squad (almost two years younger than most of his team-mates) but they've been raving about this diminutive winger from Ballyfermot for, it seems, years. Flood had hardly landed at Manchester City from Cherry Orchard when he made his reserve-team debut (at the age of 15) and, this season, was given his first-team debut, alongside his Irish under-20 captain Glen Whelan. Once described by Brian Kerr as Ireland's "most exciting young player" - a tag Flood invariably lives up to when he takes to the field.

David Bell

Position: Midfielder

Born: Wellingborough, 21/1/1984

Club: Rushden and Diamonds

Born in England of an Irish father and Scottish mother, Bell, whose Donegal-born cousin of the same name is also at Rushden and Diamonds, was put on standby for the England under-19 squad and invited to attend a Scottish under-21 practice match before opting to declare for Ireland this summer, making his debut against Italy last month. Bell, who can play anywhere in midfield, scored in that game and performed sufficiently well to earn selection for the World Youth Cup squad.

Keith Fahey

Position: Midfielder

Born: Dublin, 15/1/1983

Club: St Patrick's Athletic

A late call-up following the withdrawal through injury of Sunderland's Seán Thornton, Fahey, manager Gerry Smith admitted, was unlucky not to be included in his original World Youth Cup squad. The St Patrick's Athletic midfielder, who is fast developing into a free-kick specialist, had spells in England with Arsenal and Aston Villa before returning home, where he has since established himself as a key player for St Pat's.

Kevin Doyle

Position: Midfielder/forward

Born: Wexford, 18/9/1983

Club: Cork City

A talented Gaelic footballer, Doyle played for the Wexford minors and under-21s before joining St Patrick's Athletic and then moving to Cork City last March - he was Pat Dolan's first signing. The winger/forward is the only member of the squad never to have played in England, turning down offers of trials at Swindon and Sunderland, and has had a superb season in the Eircom League.

Jonathon Daly

Position: Forward

Born: Dublin, 8/1/1983

Club: Stockport County

Had an unfortunate English "pre-season" when he broke a bone in his foot while stepping out of a golf buggy, but the 2001 Irish Youth Player of the Year recovered to reclaim his place in Stockport's team, now managed by Sammy McIlroy, and in the under-20 squad. Daly, who joined Stockport from Cherry Orchard five years ago, has an impressive underage record, scoring three goals in four games in last year's under-19 championships in Norway.

Eamon Zayed

Position: Forward

Born: Dublin, 4/10/1983

Club: Bray Wanderers

Distraught to miss out on selection for Gerry Smith's initial squad for the World Youth Cup, Zayed earned a reprieve when Charlton's Adrian Deane withdrew through injury. The Bray forward, who had a spell in England with Leicester City, has been offered a trial with Dynamo Moscow in January. Made his Ireland debut in January's invitational tournament in the Emirates, scoring twice, and has been a prolific scorer for Bray this season.

Stephen Elliott

Position: Forward

Born: Dublin, 6/1/1984

Club: Manchester City

There's something about Belvedere and Stephens - they've provided three of them (Capper, Kelly and Elliott) for the current under-20 squad. Elliott, who spent eight seasons with Belvedere (and one at Stella Maris), scored a hat-trick on his under-21 debut against Poland in August, but the striker, who has often been likened to Robbie Keane, is in the final year of his contract at Manchester City, where he is struggling to break into the reserve team. Could do with a useful World Youth Cup to prove his potential.