Robbie Keane has warned against the weight of expectation being piled onto young Tottenham Hotspur striker Troy Parrott here in Ireland, where the 17-year-old is routinely referred to as being a natural long-term successor to the country's record goalscorer.
Keane says that he went to see Parrott in London in order the get a greater sense of the young Dubliner’s personality and admits to having come away impressed. But, he says that the teenager still has a lot to do if he is to make it at the very highest level and that his prospects might not be enhanced by the extent to which he is being talked up.
“We have to be careful with Troy Parrott,” said Ireland’s assistant manager at an event in Crumlin Children’s Hospital to make the fact that the first of the Euro2020 games to be staged in Dublin is now only a year away. “A couple of us here have to be careful not to pigeonhole him with being the next me and all of that. He’s him. He’s Troy Parrott so we have to let him develop as a young player.
“Has he got ability? Absolutely. I speak to (Mauricio) Pochettino all the time and he loves him. Jésus (Perez) the assistant manager loves him. He definitely has potential but then he. . .what? 17. . just turned 17; I know I got thrown in at 17 but he’s still young and he’s had a lot of attention.
“People at Tottenham love him,” he continued, “he’s a lovely lad, he definitely has the mentality, he has everything so he certainly has a chance but it’s up to him.”
Much the same has been said about all of Ireland's brighter prospects at big English clubs in recent years and yet the attrition rate is terrible, with Conor Masterson the latest in a long line to find himself mapping out a new way to regular first team football after his time at Liverpool came to an end a couple of weeks ago. Keane acknowledges just how easily things can take a turn for the worse but insists that the young striker comes across as being mentally strong enough to complete the process.
“When we took the job over I had an hour with him at the Tottenham training ground,” he says. “I went over and had lunch with him, just wanted to have a chat with him, see where he was.
“He definitely has the right temperament to be a top player and like I say the manager speaks very highly of him. He’s got a chance so, when the opportunity comes for him he needs to take it.
"We need him to develop, to keep scoring goals, I know he did for the 23s last season and then he got injured but we need him to keep progressing, keep developing, keep watching, keep learning, keep listening, keep speaking to Harry Kane, watch what he does, what his movement.
“As a young kid I used to do it myself, watch the top players because you can learn a lot from them.”