Ireland U21 midfielder thriving ahead of crucial double-header of qualifiers

Jack Taylor heads off on international duty after scoring in each of Peterborough United’s last three games.

Jack Taylor tracking Sandro Tonali during Ireland's defeat to Italy in Pisa last month.
Jack Taylor tracking Sandro Tonali during Ireland's defeat to Italy in Pisa last month.
Image: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U21 international Jack Taylor made the difference on Saturday as Peterborough United’s promising start to the season continued.

Peterborough, who sit atop League One, advanced to the second round of the FA Cup thanks to Taylor’s 63rd-minute winning strike in a 2-1 victory over Oxford United.

It was a third goal in as many games for the midfielder, who now heads off on international duty, with Ireland U21 boss Jim Crawford sure to be encouraged by his form ahead of two vital European Championship qualifiers.

The Peterborough Telegraph hailed Taylor for “another imperious midfield display”, describing him as “the best player on the park” against Oxford.

Born in London, the 22-year-old – whose father is from Galway – was in the academy at Chelsea before beginning his professional career at Barnet. Having impressed there, he was snapped up by Peterborough in January.

“I scored a few goals at Barnet and I wanted to try and replicate that here. I’m pleased with how things are going,” he said after Saturday’s win.

“We are in a good place as a team and I am in a good place personally. I am looking forward to international duty.”

peterborough-united-v-portsmouth-sky-bet-league-one-weston-homes-stadium Peterborough signed Taylor from Barnet earlier this year. Source: Kieran Cleeves

Following the promotion of captain Jayson Molumby to the senior squad, the Ireland U21s have been in need of a boost in midfield as they aim to secure European Championship qualification for the first time.

Taylor will hope to retain his place after making his first competitive start in last month’s defeat to Italy, while Derby County’s Jason Knight will also return to U21 duty, having missed the game in Pisa when he was summoned for a senior debut against Finland.

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Crawford’s squad will assemble tomorrow ahead of Sunday’s clash with Iceland at Tallaght Stadium. Their Group 1 campaign will conclude with an away game against Luxembourg a week on Wednesday.

Ireland are in second place, level on points with leaders Italy, who have the benefit of a superior goal difference and a game in hand. The Italians will look to move clear when they travel to Reykjavik to face Iceland this Thursday.

The nine group winners, as well as the five best second-placed teams, will qualify for next year’s tournament, which will be jointly hosted by Hungary and Slovenia.

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Paul Dollery

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