Troy Parrott happy to play the waiting game with Ireland
Quirk in FAI succession plan means Kenny won’t be in charge should under-21 qualify
Troy Parrott is happy to remain at under-21 level with Ireland for the time being. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
While those around Troy Parrott push and prod him towards the Republic of Ireland senior squad, the teenage sensation won’t crib if Mick McCarthy continues to leave him where he is with the under-21s.
The Tottenham striker is the hot topic of Irish football right now; his three goals on his first two under-21 appearances over five days in a pair of victories for Stephen Kenny’s side providing the latest proof of his credentials. That he managed the brace in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Sweden as a second-half substitute only enhances them.
As it stands, according to McCarthy, the 17-year-old will remain with the under-21s next month rather than elevate to his set-up. His only caveat is a sudden Premier League breakthrough altering his stance.
Given Parrott’s first-team exposure from Mauricio Pochettino is likely to be in the Carabao Cup against Colchester on September 24th, McCarthy will probably resist the temptation of drafting the rookie in for the double-header of Euro qualifiers in Georgia and Switzerland.
Kenny’s side, top of their own Euro group following three straight victories, have top seeds Italy at home and Iceland away during the same international window.
“Mick is the gaffer and picks the squad he believes will win him matches,” said a diplomatic Parrott. “I read the gaffer’s comments about him not being able to see much from me in the friendly against Bulgaria this week.
“He’s made his mind up and I’ve no problem with that. I’m eligible for a few different age-groups and would happily represent Ireland at any level.
“I’m just looking forward to the next under-21 game against Italy in Dublin. This week was my first time in with them and we have an unbelievable squad.”
Kenny’s crew have given themselves a springboard to qualify for a first major under-21 tournament.
Beating Luxembourg and Armenia at home in their opening pair of fixtures was expected but in Kalmar on Tuesday they became the first Ireland team for seven years to beat one of the top two seeds in their pool.
Uefa’s decision to expand the 2021 finals in Slovenia and Hungary from 12 to 16 teams means all the second-placed teams across the nine groups are guaranteed a playoff. The best runners-up are spared the play-off, qualifying directly for the tournament with each of the group victors.
Kenny has already admitted that, should this side create history by qualifying, his commitments with the senior squad from next summer wouldn’t allow him lead them into the finals.
Under the existing succession plan, hatched by former FAI chief executive John Delaney, Kenny will have departed his under-21 duties before their final qualifier against Italy in October 2020, and a potential playoff.
On the basis of the bullish soundbites emerging from the camp, their first intention is getting there through the front door.
Despite trailing at half-time to the Swedes, Ireland were well in the game and underlined their dominance by scoring three times in the final 22 minutes. They even could afford to have Aaron Connolly’s penalty saved.
Italy will present a much sterner test at Tallaght next month.
They are one of the traditional powerhouses at this level, lifting the trophy on five occasions, and will come to Dublin boasting the likes of Moise Kean, Manuel Locatelli and Tottenham target Nicolò Zaniolo. They opened their campaign on Tuesday by defeating Luxembourg 5-0 in Castel di Sangro.
“The Italians will have talent in their team worth over €100m but our side won’t be taking a step back for any opponent,” declared Kenny. “It would be nice to get a large turnout at Tallaght that night. I’m sure the Irish football public will want to see that match.”
Ireland’s remaining under-21 Euro qualifying fixtures: October 10th: Italy (H); October 15th: Iceland (A); November 14th: Armenia (A); November 19th: Sweden (H). March 26th, 2020: Iceland (H); March 31st, 2020: Luxembourg (A); October 13th, 2020: Italy (A).