Shane Flynn in frame for Leicester debut in FA Cup clash against Brighton
Left-sided wing back has impressed at the club since move from St Joseph’s
Leicester City’s Shane Flynn tackles Jack Clarke of Tottenham Hotspur during the Premier League 2 match at Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre. photograph: James Chance/Getty Images
Having been included in the matchday squad for Leicester City’s Europa League game against Zorya Lugansk in Ukraine before Christmas, 19-year-old Dubliner Shane Flynn will get another shot at a first-team debut in Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Brighton on Wednesday evening.
The left-sided wing back had returned to the club’s under-23 set-up in recent weeks but having trained with the first team for the past week is now expected to be a part of the squad until the end of the season and is in talks with the club about a new long-term contract.
Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers has suggested that some of his younger squad members might well get a look in around the game. And while the teenager is reckoned to be slightly behind right back Vontae Daley-Campbell and midfielder Khanya Leshabela in terms of prospects for a start, he appears to be in with a serious shout of getting some first-team minutes under his belt in either this cup game or the Europa League matches against Slavia Prague to come over the next couple of weeks.
As it is, Flynn becomes one of the small number of underage Ireland internationals at top-flight clubs who are involved with the first-team squads and hoping to make Premier League debuts before the end of the current campaign.
At West Ham, Ademipo Odubeko recently made a fleeting appearance at the end of a cup game against Stockport and having been an unused sub in four of the London club’s last five league matches, the 18-year-old came on in the 54th minute for the injured Andriy Yarmolenko in Tuesday’s night’s FA Cup game against his old club at Old Trafford. He struggled to make an impact in a dour affair and was replaced in the second half of extra-time by Manuel Lanzini.
Conor Coventry, also at West Ham, featured in the League Cup back in September, but has been back with the under-23s since, while Will Ferry has been a first-team substitute in three of Southampton’s recent league games with the midfielder having moved slightly up the pecking order due to injuries, including the serious one suffered by Irish under-21 international Will Smallbone last month.
Lewis Richards, an Under-19 Ireland international defender, has made much the same progression recently at Wolves, making the matchday squad for the fifth time in six weeks for Sunday’s home game against Leicester.
Of the group, Flynn, from Leopardstown, and Odubeko, from Tallaght, both had spells at St Joseph’s Boys before moving to England with the striker, who was a year younger, a target for most of the leading English sides at the time.
The teenager left for Manchester destined, it seemed, to sign for City but ended up not long after at United instead. He then turned down a contract extension there and spent several months, during which he declined several offers, without a club before deciding that West Ham offered the best prospects of progressing.
Flynn, by contrast, flew more under the radar at underage level, earning relatively few opportunities in Irish teams and getting over to England on trials in part because of the belief his club here had in him. Once over at Leicester, though, he did enough to persuade the club that he was worth investing in.
He has made good progress since, adapting well to the move and, it seems, impressing with his eagerness to impress and sheer energy.
“Mipo was the player everyone wanted in his age group before he went away, even ahead of Troy Parrott, ” says Will Clarke, director of operations at St Joseph’s. “His strength is his finishing. If he gets chances, he’ll take them.
“Shane has a great attitude,” he adds, “and absolutely loves his football. The feedback on him has been really positive; they seem to really see him as having the ability to stay with the senior group now, with his attacking ability and the distance he covers in games impressing the staff there.”
Odubeko’s progress this year has actually been hampered by a hamstring injury and contracting coronavirus but with the club’s striking options very limited, David Moyes suggested last week that he is likely to get more opportunities. Flynn will be hoping his first chance is about to arrive.