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Dublin: 16 °C Thursday 27 June, 2019
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'I think he should come to Denmark now that he's made that commitment'

Martin O’Neill indicated Michael Obafemi was likely to travel to Aarhus, but has warned against expecting too much of the 18-year-old.

Michael Obafemi pictured on the bench during Thursday night's match.
Michael Obafemi pictured on the bench during Thursday night's match.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

- Paul Fennessy reports from the Aviva Stadium

IRELAND BOSS MARTIN O’Neill has indicated that Southampton teenager Michael Obafemi will travel with his squad to Denmark for his side’s Nations League clash on Monday.

The 66-year-old coach previously suggested Obafemi was unlikely to be involved in the match amid uncertainty over his international future.

However, after the 18-year-old striker officially declared for the Republic ahead of the Northern Ireland game on Thursday, O’Neill suggested that the youngster now was likely to be part of the trip to Aarhus.

“I think he should come to Denmark now that he’s made that commitment,” O’Neill told reporters, suggesting that he may feature at some point in the game.

The Irish boss also elaborated on the Dublin-born striker’s sudden decision to choose to represent Ireland at international level, despite also being eligible for England and Nigeria.

“Number one, I said at the start of the week if he did make a commitment to us, I probably would take him [to Denmark].

“If he hadn’t made that commitment, there was really no point.

“Michael said to me, first of all, it was the way he was treated at underage level by us. And obviously, coming into the senior squad, he was really well received by the senior players and the staff. I think that’s a big part in his decision.

“He’s made the decision. He wanted a little bit of time to think about it. I spoke to him, he was very happy. Obviously, I spoke to his agent too.”

Meanwhile, Ireland failed to find the net for the third successive game against Northern Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday, with O’Neill once again lamenting the absence of a natural goalscorer in the squad.

The former Celtic and Aston Villa boss also warned fans and media not to expect too much immediately of Obafemi, who has made just three Premier League appearances off the bench for Southampton.

“He’s certainly got promise about him. He’s obviously got work to do. He’s only been in and around the Southampton first team a couple of times. He’s very young. I mentioned yesterday, I think he’s very raw. He’ll go home and mature — in time, that’ll happen.

“Maybe, in the not-too-distant future, he could be a proper player for us. But I think it’s asking a lot for him to be the answer to our goalscoring problems.”

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Paul Fennessy

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