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Stephen Kenny 'absolutely delighted' for Troy Parrott, but hints he could return to U21s

The 17-year-old striker has made good progress at Tottenham of late.

Troy Parrott (file pic).
Troy Parrott (file pic).
Image: Simon Stacpoole/INPHO

STEPHEN KENNY HAS expressed his delight for Tottenham youngster Troy Parrott, after it was confirmed during the week that the 17-year-old would feature in Ireland’s senior squad for games against New Zealand and Denmark.

The Dubliner featured on the bench for the first time in the Premier League at the weekend, while he also recently made his Spurs senior debut in the League Cup.

And while Kenny, who named his squad today for upcoming Euro qualifiers with Armenia and Sweden, is happy on account of Parrott’s progress, he has not ruled out the possibility of him returning to the U21 side in future.

“While we want to try to qualify and progress at U21 level, it is ultimately about players progressing and becoming senior internationals, so I’m absolutely delighted for him that he’s called up and that’s the way it goes,” Kenny said.

Parrott helped Ireland U21s to wins against Armenia and Sweden, scoring three goals in two games, before getting controversially sent off in the match with Italy.

Asked whether there was a possibility of Parrott playing in the New Zealand friendly and then returning to the U21 side for their vital qualifier with Sweden rather than figuring in the Denmark clash, Kenny responded: “There is no arrangement. We have seen it even recently with Italy where [Lorenzo] Pellegrini and [Sandro] Tonali are with the senior team — they came back to the 21s from the senior team.

“After our international, Tonali and Moise Kean were due to link up with the senior team for the second part of that international trip, so players are fluid in other countries — it’s something that is not uncommon. So these things can happen and that’s not my decision. And whatever the decision Mick makes, I completely respect that.”

On Parrott, he later added: “Anything is possible, so it’s not for me to comment on how that goes for Troy. But I certainly wish Troy all the best, his attitude has been brilliant for us and he scored some really good goals, so we certainly wish him well.”

Parrott has shown encouraging form of late, scoring four goals in the Uefa Youth League, as has Liverpool’s Caoimhín Kelleher, who saved a penalty in the Reds’ shootout League Cup win over Arsenal.

I think Caoimhín has played in the 10 internationals we’ve had this season, which has been a great fillip for him. It was at a time when he wasn’t getting much match time, a lot of training and he’s been in all the great stadiums, but for him to be playing 10 U21 internationals, he’s just been so consistent and we’re delighted to have him. His composure and experience will be important in Armenia.”

Jayson Molumby and Lee O’Connor are suspended for the Armenia game, but will link up with the squad for the subsequent Sweden match. Parrott and Aaron Connolly are unavailable due to their senior commitments, while Darragh Leahy and Jonathan Afolabi are injured. As a result, there are first call-ups for Aston Villa’s Jack Clarke, Hearts striker Aidan Keena and Southampton full-back Thomas O’Connor, who is currently on loan at Gillingham.

Consequently, the Irish team is likely to be much changed for the upcoming games away to Armenia and home against Sweden.

“Armenia had a good win against Luxembourg — 2-0,” Kenny added. “It was only 1-0 against Italy, a very tight game. So Armenia away is a different proposition.

Obviously we’ve got to get three fights. To fly there, we go London, Kiev, Yerevan. So it’s a busy window for us. You go into the room in the negotiation in Uefa to plan your fixtures. It’s an extraordinary event in fact.

“Some fixtures, you negotiate and they happen for you. This was not in the way we wanted — to get Armenia away followed by Sweden. Such distances involved and getting on three flights to play the second match. But that’s the way it goes, you can’t get everything you want. That’s the nature of these things.

“So we’ve got to be very focused going to Armenia and try to prepare as well as we can, because a lot of our players are playing on Saturday and some on Sunday, and we’re flying on Monday. So there won’t be much time to prepare once we get over there, it’s a Thursday game. Obviously, you can’t train on Monday, because you’re travelling for 10 hours and you’ve got to prepare then on the Tuesday and Wednesday for the game. I think it’s a big challenge for us and we’d like to get a positive result if we can in Armenia, which is the firm focus.”

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Paul Fennessy

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