Ryan Byrne/INPHO Jayson Molumby started Ireland's last match against Finland.

Ireland youngster wants to 'affect the game' more

Brighton midfielder Jayson Molumby admits he is far from the finished product.

JAYSON MOLUMBY IS well aware he is far from the finished product, as the youngster prepares for potentially the biggest game of his career to date, should he be involved in Ireland’s crucial Euros play-off against Slovakia on Thursday.

Stephen Kenny certainly appears to have plenty of faith in the 21-year-old midfielder. The 48-year-old coach made him captain during their time together in the Ireland U21s set-up, while he also handed Molumby a senior international debut for last month’s Nations League clash against Finland.

Yet the Waterford native acknowledges there is room for improvement in his game.

He has still yet to make his Premier League debut for Brighton, despite an eye-catching loan spell in the Championship with Millwall last season.

He did feature in two EFL Cup matches — a 4-0 win over Portsmouth and a 3-0 loss to Man United — after manager Graham Potter persuaded him to stay despite another Millwall loan offer at the beginning of this season.

“It’s about being patient to go from playing every week to now being on the fringes,” he says.

“[Graham and I] had a few chats about various different things. He just explained what he needs from me and wants to see from me. He’s really good with the way he wants to play, and with young players. I feel like I could develop really well with him.

“He just gave his opinion and what I wanted to hear, the areas I need to improve on, and areas he thinks I’m strong on. Graham has great experience in developing young players and I’m trying to take it all onboard, trying to put it all into practice every day.

“He’s really keen on me. He’s shown me that there’s probably a pathway for me there [to the first team]. I’m really enjoying it.

“If there’s a pathway and I feel I’m good enough or ready, I’d like to try and push to get into the team.”

As was the case with the side in general, Molumby struggled to make a significant impact on proceedings during Ireland’s disappointing loss to Finland last month. And he suggests a lack of fitness played a part in the below-par display.

“It’s obviously so strange to play your first game for your country without really any pre-season, or without any minutes in the legs after 4-5 weeks off. But obviously, it was a big deal for me, an incredible moment.”

And while he has been used sparingly by Brighton since then, Molumby insists his fitness is much improved of late owing to a couple of weeks training. And it is not the only area of his game he is aiming to enhance.

I suppose the position of box-to-box midfielder is dying out a bit now in modern times. That’s probably the way I would like to see myself going forward, doing a bit of both really. Trying to affect the game a bit more is probably the main thing I need to work on — in terms of goals and assists — because that’s priceless from a midfielder. That’s probably the main thing I need to do to take my game to the next level.

“The gaffer knows me really well from the U21s. It’s probably just pride and giving everything for my country [where my strengths lie]. I have so much energy, even when you’re struggling you find a way to get through and it’s how hungry I was with the U21s and stuff.

“Just work-rate, the basics of being a good pro is probably a bit overlooked, whereas technical ability is probably top of the list [and] other attributes are lower down. So if you can have a mix of both, you’re in a good place.

“But I think I can offer that, for sure, and hopefully I can keep working hard and people will see that in the coming years.”

Molumby adds that Kenny’s management style is “pretty much the same” whether it’s U21 or senior players he’s in charge of, and emphasises that he is far from the only Ireland player who should be aiming to affect the game on a more regular basis.

“We’ve reviewed the clips of what we’ve done well over the last two games and the chances we’ve created. It’s just final third where we’ve to sharpen up and hopefully that will come with a bit of fitness. 

[Kenny] got a few clips even where a few players aren’t passing forward when they should be, myself included… Where there are opportunities to do certain things, to take the leash off a little bit and not be so safe in their passing and decision making. So I think that you’re going to see more of that — players being fearless.”

One individual who certainly does not play with trepidation is Molumby’s Brighton team-mate Aaron Connolly. The Galway native broke into the Seagulls’ first team last season, and has already gotten off the mark in this campaign with a goal against Newcastle.

Connolly will be aiming to build on this positive start to the season, should he be given the nod to play in Bratislava on Thursday.

“I’ve seen him since he was so young, just the improvement that he has made has been unbelievable,” Molumby adds. “And his attitude, he has such a desire, he beats himself up a lot when he comes off the pitch, even if he has played really well and been the best player. But if he hasn’t scored, he’s really gutted. That’s what he bases his game on.

“So he can definitely be a match-winner for us with what he has and with his ability. Hopefully, he can go and do it for us.”

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