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'Good to work with young players who haven't been brainwashed yet' - Keane praises O'Dowda debut

The 21-year-old winger will stick around with the senior set-up for the remainder of the week after coming on as a late substitute last night.

O'Dowda played the last 15 minutes last night.
O'Dowda played the last 15 minutes last night.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

CALLUM O’DOWDA’S SENIOR international debut was one of the few positives to take from Ireland’s friendly last night.

Belarus came away from Turner’s Cross with a surprise 2-1 win but 21-year-old replaced Aiden McGeady on 75 minutes to make his bow, having been called up by Martin O’Neill for the first time last month.

The Oxford United winger may not have had long on the pitch but impressed during the cameo appearance with his running and positive play.

Ireland U21 regular O’Dowda was never really in contention for a place at Euro 2016 as O’Neill just wanted him to gain experience training with the first team, and he will stay on with the group for the remainder of the week.

Assistant boss Roy Keane praised the youngster’s contribution while having a bit of a dig at the other more experienced players around him.

“Everyone said he did well last night because he controlled it, he passed it and he moved,” said Keane. “That’s why we think he did well. I think that should be the remit for most professional footballers but some players can’t seem to do that.

He’s a nice kid and he’s got a nice way about him. We’ve previously seen him with the U21s but it’s good to get a close look at him.

“He’s a confident lad, he has had a good season at club level and it was good to get him on last night because it’s good to work with young players who have not been brainwashed yet.”

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