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Crawford backs Irish youngster after Old Trafford anti-climax

Ademipo Odubeko came off the bench for West Ham against Man United last month before being substituted.

West Ham United manager David Moyes greets Ademipo Odubeko as he is substituted at Old Trafford.
West Ham United manager David Moyes greets Ademipo Odubeko as he is substituted at Old Trafford.
Image: PA

JIM CRAWFORD has backed West Ham youngster Ademipo Odubeko after he endured a difficult moment last month.

The 18-year-old Tallaght-born striker, who has been included in the Ireland U21 squad to face Wales later this month, recently appeared off the bench in the FA Cup against Man United.

Coming on in the 54th minute for the injured Andriy Yarmolenko, Odubeko struggled to make an impact for a West Ham side that played the game largely on the back foot.

As a consequence, after the match went to extra-time, David Moyes harshly opted to substitute the teenager, with Manuel Lanzini taking his place in the 112th minute.

Moyes received some criticism for the decision, but the player later thanked his manager for what he described as a “lesson learnt”. 

Crawford too had words of encouragement for the player, who he first came across lining out for St Joseph’s Boys in an All-Ireland Cup final a few years ago.

And did he get in touch with Odubeko in regards to the sensitive matter of his somewhat anti-climactic Old Trafford appearance?

“To be honest, I only texted him. And he responded with a text. We haven’t even got that far. You could take it two ways, your confidence could be hit and you’re on the floor. You could look at it as: ‘Okay, I made a first-team appearance in Old Trafford I’ve got build on that, I’ve got a taste of it.’ I’ve no doubt with the staff at West Ham, they’ll be doing that. He’s in a good place, it’s a fantastic club, they’ve developed unbelievably talented players. They’re experts at that type of thing. He’ll be okay, he’ll be in a good place.”

Odubeko is set to be involved in an FA Youth Cup game for the Hammers on Monday, and will then link up with Ireland ahead of the Wales friendly.

“In essence the boy hasn’t played much football, because he has been on the bench with the first-team,” Crawford added. “What happens is you are a part of the first-team squad, so you don’t play in 23s or 18s games. But, look, he is eligible to play in the FA Youth Cup game on Monday, so he wants to play in that. By all means. They also play a game tonight against Leicester. That will be two games he’ll have before next Friday’s game against Wales.

“The coach I spoke to at West Ham was certainly in favour of players developing through the medium of international football. If he plays a game on Monday, the boy has got to be minded until Friday. You can’t throw him into training sessions; he’ll have proper recovery sessions. He might only join in match-day minus-one. But he will play a part on the Friday against Wales.

“We’ve got 22 players who are coming in and with that, not everybody is going to play. The players have got to realise that this is U21 international football. It’s not like when I was back with the 18s when everybody had to get minutes. We want to prepare the team to win the game. That is also important for the players to understand.”

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Crawford also confirmed that his League of Ireland players had been given an exemption by the government to travel for the Wales game and will not need to quarantine upon returning provided they test negative for Covid when assessed.

Crawford also elaborated on John Joe Patrick Finn, the Getafe player who looks set to declare for Ireland, with work still to be done as regards his passport and availability.

“For friendly games you don’t have to be so on-board with passports and what have you. But he is committed, he was certainly taken back by the angle we came in with, with regards to Stephen, Tom Mohan, Martin Doyle who put together a presentation. So, it just built on from that.

“I’m in regular contact with the mom, because again John Joe is only 17. He is a player with serious potential and I was just delighted when he said he would like to play with the Republic of Ireland, because you had Spain and England who were interested as well. I just think it’s a nice catch to get somebody like John Joe against that type of competition. He is a talented boy, but he is young. You always have to keep that in mind too.” 

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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