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Tommy Dickson/INPHO Shamrock Rovers' Danny Mandroiu (file pic).
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'We don't have too many number 10s and he's a fella that can open doors for the senior team'
Jim Crawford belives Danny Mandroiu can make a big impact for Stephen Kenny’s Ireland side.

JIM CRAWFORD reserved praise for recent Ireland U21 graduates Danny Mandroiu and Andrew Omobamidele, after the pair received their first senior call-ups on Monday.

Mandroiu was part of Crawford’s squad for the last qualifying campaign, and has got the nod from Stephen Kenny after an impressive start to the season with Shamrock Rovers.

Ireland’s problems with both scoring and creating goals have been well documented.

Since Wes Hoolahan announced his international retirement in February 2018, there has been no natural successor in the number 10 role, with the likes of Alan Browne and Jeff Hendrick often doing a job there despite being better-known as more deep-lying midfielders.

And Crawford believes former Brighton youngster Mandroiu is one man who can potentially fill that void.

“I was working with Dan when I was obviously the assistant [for Ireland U21s] and when I became head coach, he was always someone who I wanted in the squad, although at that time he wasn’t getting into the Bohemians team.

“But I still knew that the pictures that he sees, the passes that he makes, his goal-scoring threat, his set-pieces, he’s outstanding, he’s a real quality player and I was absolutely delighted for him.

“I’ve seen him play a few times this year and he’s been excellent. I think I’m excited with regards to his potential, because we don’t have too many number 10s and he’s a fella that can open doors for the senior team.

“And I think he’ll be desperate to play and show people what he can do at that level. So I’m excited, delighted, another really good fella and I wish him the best in his international and club career.”

And while Mandroiu has featured regularly for Ireland at U21 level up until recently, one player who has enjoyed a more swift promotion to the senior set-up is Andrew Omobamidele.

The 18-year-old defender from Leixlip only made his debut for Crawford’s side in the 2-1 friendly win over Wales back in March, and has now been included in Kenny’s 27-man panel for the games against Andorra and Hungary.

Omobamidele has impressed for Norwich this season, featuring on nine occasions in the Championship as the Canaries earned promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

“I’ve been watching Andrew a long time now and he’s a fantastic talent, an excellent centre-half, we played him as the left-sided centre-half against Wales because he’s comfortable with both feet, he’s confident stepping into the game, his decision-making on the ball has always been excellent with Norwich whether it’s been ’18s or ’23s and now Norwich’s first team,” Crawford said.

“So I knew what we were getting coming into camp, he’s an excellent player. But I got to know him when he was in camp and he’s also a fantastic person, hard working, wants to learn and I was really impressed with him.

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“I rang him and congratulated him on his call-up and it’s exciting for him, it really is, and he’ll take it in his stride. He’s a very level-headed character, too, but he’s got enormous potential and I’m over the moon for him.”

Another teenage centre-back for whom Ireland have high hopes is Seán Roughan.

The 17-year-old Dubliner has featured 11 times in all competitions for Lincoln this season, and recently went on trial to both Chelsea and Southampton, with a decision on his club future expected in the coming weeks.

Roughan is one of seven new faces included set to link up with Crawford’s squad for the first time, along with Sevilla’s Ryan Johansson, Getafe’s John Joe Patrick Finn, Sheffield Wendesday’s Ciaran Brennan, Derby County’s Festy Ebosele, Schalke 04′s Dan Rose and UCD’s League of Ireland First Division top scorer Colm Whelan.

“Seán certainly caught my eye when he went over to Lincoln. He was playing left-back, left centre-back. I always earmarked him as somebody with serious potential. This is a great opportunity for him.

“What’s happened at Lincoln is that he hasn’t featured that much of late, but he’s played a number of games. He’s played for Southampton’s 23s. He’s played for Chelsea’s 23s. They’ve all been impressed with him. So this is another opportunity for him to make a step up and show people what he can produce. I know he’s got potential and I’ve seen him playing with Lincoln and playing in a good league where he certainly didn’t look out of place. It’ll be the first time I get to meet him, so to get to see him up close and personal will be great.

“He certainly has to go to a club where he’s going to play football, whether it’s U23s [or senior]. Unfortunately, Lincoln don’t have an U23s team. It’s the first team and an U18s. It’s a huge couple of weeks for him to cement his future, whether it’s Chelsea, Southampton or somewhere else. But looking at him play at Lincoln, the games that we’ve seen, he’s certainly got ability, potential and this is a real opportunity for him, a really good platform. The [Ireland U21] games are on TV as well, so he’s certainly in an ideal place to showcase his talent.”

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