Will Ferry of Ireland pictured playing against Sweden. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
school of hard knocks

Irish youngster Ferry progressing thanks to 'men's football'

The Southampton player is currently on loan at Crawley Town.

IRELAND U21 player Will Ferry has credited “men’s football” for his recent development.

The 20-year-old was one of four players introduced off the bench as Ireland earned a last-gasp victory over Sweden on Tuesday to keep their Euros qualification hopes alive.

After the 1-0 victory, boss Jim Crawford praised the role of Ferry and the other substitutes for adding greater energy to the Irish performance and enhancing the pressure, which eventually told, on the Swedish defence.

Moreover, it is a landmark season for Ferry. Having previously solely played underage football for Southampton, he has got his first taste of sustained senior football since the beginning of the season, having gone on loan.

So far, he has made 14 appearances in all competitions for League Two side Crawley Town.

“It’s just men’s football. As an academy player, it’s mad different to academy football, just dealing with flick ons. It has taken me a while to realise that skill, that wasn’t in my arsenal. I’ve actually developed how to flick on a ball, how to deal with the physicality, shoulder to shoulder [contact]. It’s definitely helped me.”

So does Ferry feel there is too much nice football at U23 level, rather than the intensity more readily apparent in the senior game?

“I wouldn’t say too much. Technically wise it develops you. I think sometimes you’re a bit protected from the real footballing world. Football at that level is nice compared to the real world. It’s that bit of a reality check when you go from the academy to actual men’s senior football.”

Ferry is currently one of three Irish players on the books at Southampton, along with U21 teammate Will Smallbone and Shane Long.

His current loan is set to last until the end of the season, with the Saints regularly checking in on him.

“I have different contacts at Southampton that are always asking for updates. There’s a particular person who watches all the games back, he’ll give me their side of their analysis, what he thinks I should do. He’s been in league football and academy football, so he’s got both sides of the perspective. It is really good from a development point of view.”

The youngster featured on the right wing for Ireland on Tuesday, the same position he has spent the majority of this season with Crawley. But he is a versatile player, capable of playing on either side, while sometimes slotting in at full-back.

“I’m just happy to get minutes. Obviously to come on and have an impact I’m happy to do that. 

“It always used to be left, I’ve always just been a left-sided player. I think I added a bit more versatility, playing on the right, I think I can do a job there.”

On the morale-boosting late win over Sweden, Ferry added: “It turned into a really open end-to-end game. I think fitness wise, we probably showed that we were the fitter team. We were opening them up with Evan [Ferguson] coming on who is what, 17? And he’s torn them apart. Ollie [O’Neill] obviously scored the winner as a sub, so I think everyone made a good impact.

“We’ve been unlucky at times [in the campaign]. We can’t put it all down to luck, we obviously have to look at ourselves sometimes. I think [Tuesday] just showed that the character is still there, and we are never going to give up. We missed the chances, we were solid at the back, I don’t remember a big chance for them. So, I think all we’ve done is show how strong we are as a group and our team spirit really.”

And while Ireland will hope to build on the Sweden win by qualifying for the Euros, Ferry admits this week’s game will live long in the memory: “I’m not sure we can top that in terms of the feeling. Hopefully, we do it in a way that we are a bit more relaxed towards the end [in future games]. But obviously, the feeling of that, you’re never going to beat.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel