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Dublin: 12°C Monday 23 November 2020

Troy Parrott tipped for recognition at senior international level by Brian Kerr

The Spurs striker impressed in a 45-minute cameo against Juventus over the weekend.

Troy Parrott celebrates with Erik Lamela against Juventus.
Troy Parrott celebrates with Erik Lamela against Juventus.
Image: Danial Hakim

“JUST BUFFON TO beat, it sounds a bit surreal”, reflected Troy Parrott to Spurs TV, having played the first 45 minutes of Tottenham’s pre-season friendly against Juventus over the weekend. 

Parrott didn’t quite beat Buffon, mind – the goalkeeper parried his shot into the path of Erik Lamela, who then turned the ball into the net. 

That striker Parrott was on the field, however, hints at his precocity – Buffon had made more than 200 senior appearances and moved to Juventus for a world-record fee by the time Parrott was born in February, 2002. 

Parrott missed the U17 Euros through injury and is playing on Spurs’ pre-season tour instead of playing for Ireland at the U19 Euros, given the tournament falls outside of the agreed international window and so clubs have no obligation to release their players. 

Richard Dunne yesterday called on Mick McCarthy to fast-track Parrott to the senior squad, and former Irish manager Brian Kerr isn’t against that idea. 

“I haven’t seen a lot of him live”, Kerr tells The42, ”but what I’d say based on what I have seen – physically, which is very important if you’re going to play senior level, he looks like he has a decent body shape and has good strength about him.

“I’m impressed that Pochettino threw him into a match. I know in pre-season that managers bring big squads to games, but the fact he brought him and played him would indicate he is there or thereabouts. They didn’t let him go with the U19s.

So Mick has done that in the past, going back to Robbie and Damien in the past. He may well do that, and we haven’t exactly had a group of stars who have excited us and delighted us with their technical ability over the last few years. Nobody has stood out in the Irish team over the last two to three years who you can say, ‘He has been consistently great.’Brady and Hendrick haven’t done it consistently since the Euros.

“So why not? If he is there or thereabouts at Spurs at the beginning of the season, and sometimes it can work the other way – if the international manager puts a fella in, it heightens his status in the head of the club manager.

“Would RB Leipzig have taken Ethan Ampadu on loan from Chelsea if he hadn’t been playing for Wales on a regular basis? Probably not.” 

In spite of his absence, the Irish U19s have done admirably at the European Championships in Armenia.

They face Portugal in a semi-final tomorrow [KO 3pm, Live on RTÉ Two] having come through a group with France, Czech Republic and Norway having been the only side to qualify for the tournament with a 100% record in qualification. 

Parrott is far from the only absence – also missing are Adam Idah, Conor Coventry, Jason Knight, Luca Connell, Nathan Collins, and Will Smallbone. 

“It is very frustrating for Tom [Mohan] and the staff, not having the best players available is most annoying”, says Kerr.

“I can’t understand how that’s happening for a Uefa finals tournament, that it isn’t part of the international calendar so the FAI weren’t able to impose rules.

“When I was doing it, I was able to say that we are entitled to have the players, and I used to win the fights with managers. I don’t know whether that’s been building up for years, that some managers’ relationships with the clubs wasn’t so good.

“In saying that, I watched the first two games and I thought they’ve played well. But I’d like to get us away from the idea that this is the first era that we’ve tried to build from the back and play football.

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“That seems to be a message out there, but we’ve always had teams who could play and build play up, play football through the middle and use small players.

“Our senior teams haven’t always played like that, they have played in a pragmatic way at times as sometimes it takes that to be really successful at the top level.

“But it’s been really good and it is a great achievement, particularly the qualification to win the six matches and then to get through the group and have the chance to get to the final. It’s just a pity it is in Armenia and it is so far away, it’s not easy to get there.

“They have shown great spirit and ability. I’ve been impressed with [Joe] Hodge, he was the one who most impressed me at the U17 tournament, and he has looked a real player.

“The set up for the goal the other night was excellent. Please God some players will come through from this current team, as we have been waiting a long time for someone to come through.

“We haven’t had anyone since Brady and Hendrick who has come through from Irish football. The others are lads who were brought up in England and developed through the English system.” 

Tom Mohan Irish U19s manager Tom Mohan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Ireland’s last medal success at this tournament came under Kerr in 1999, although Paul Doolin guided a side featuring Matt Doherty and Jeff Hendrick to the semi finals in 2011.

As time passes and academies become more crowded, Kerr says that success at U19 level isn’t the foreshadowing of success at senior level it once was. 

“It is less so now, as it is the same for players from every country. Can they get a first-team game at a high level? 

“We haven’t had a player playing first team in the Premier League at 19 or 20 for a very long time. I think Brady got a couple of games at Manchester United, but it was never to the extent that other fellas like Richard Dunne or Stephen McPhail, or Robbie and Damien, even Richard Sadlier at Milwall and Jason Gavin at Middlesbrough.

“The majority of our best players from our underage teams had already played in the first team by the time they were 18 or 19. We haven’t seen that.

“It was interesting to see Troy Parrott the other day, and young Idah at Norwich. It is probably more difficult for them now, as they are competing with a world’s collection of players, but at the same time we need that to be happening.” 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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