Jim Crawford hopeful John Joe Patrick Finn will declare for Ireland

17-year-old midfielder has featured for Getafe’s first team in La Liga this season

John Joe Patrick Finn in action for Getafe against Sevilla in  December. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty

John Joe Patrick Finn in action for Getafe against Sevilla in December. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty

 

Irish Under-21 boss Jim Crawford says that he hopes to know before the start of the new European Championship campaign in March whether 17-year-old midfielder John Joe Patrick Finn will declare for Ireland but the teenager has, he admits, been approached by both the Spanish and English associations about his future.

Born in Madrid where he was initially signed to Real Madrid’s youth system, the midfielder’s father John came from Mayo while his mother, Odetta, was born in Cameroon. Now at Getafe, Finn made his senior debut towards the tail-end of last season but has featured five times for the club’s first team in recent weeks; mainly from the bench late on in league games although the run includes his first full 90 minutes in a cup win.

Crawford says that he, Stephen Kenny and Under-19 manager Tom Mohan had a video call with the player and his mother a couple of weeks ago and believes that Finn was impressed by the case they made for him choosing to play for Ireland.

“We had a good chat with both of them,” said Crawford after his side was drawn to play Italy, Sweden, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro and Luxembourg in their forthcoming qualification campaign. “He was blown away by the presentation that was put together but now we’re waiting. We’re certainly not going to rush him but I’ll be making contact in the near future to see if there has been any sort of decision made.”

Crawford suggested that the being allowed to develop his play as a central midfielder might be an important factor for the young player as he weighs his options up and indicated that he would certainly be open to facilitating that. “He’s been playing out on the right and out on the left but his favoured position would central midfield and if that’s where he would be happiest then we’d be happy to use him there.”

Crawford, meanwhile, expressed caution about any prospective move by Stoke City defender Nathan Collins, who, like Derby’s Jason Knight, has been linked to a number of Premier League clubs.

Burnley are widely reported to have bid around €5 million for Collins, a move that was rejected by Stoke, and Crawford believes that young players playing so regularly at Championship level need to carefully consider if moving is best for them when there is the chance they would not get so much game time at the higher level.

“I can’t say whether he would go straight into the teams being mentioned but I’ve always said to players, if you are playing first team football and you are happy, just keep doing what you are good at and eventually something will move for you.

“I think myself that if he did make a move and it ended up where he wasn’t playing every week, I’m not sure what would do to him with regard to his confidence. It could certainly leave him frustrated whereas I’m watching him play every week for Stoke and he is developing so quickly.

“It’s his decision in the end but he’s a big player at Stoke and he has so many positive qualities that he will reach his potential.”

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