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John Aldridge: ‘So many factors need to be put into the mix before Parrott is given his first senior Ireland cap’

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Parrott’s goals against Sweden in Tuesday’s Under-21 game added to his already exploding reputation and it is a matter of time before he makes the step up to the senior squad, yet is that moment next month’s high-pressure Euro 2020 qualifiers away from home against Georgia and Switzerland?

If the 17-year-old Tottenham striker is good enough to improve Mick McCarthy’s senior Ireland side right now, the temptation to throw him into the senior squad next month will be there.

However, so many factors need to be put into the mix before Parrott is given his first senior Ireland cap, with his temperament to handle such a big set-up just as big a factor as his talent at this stage of his career.

On the evidence of what we have seen in recent weeks, he certainly seems to be a player of fantastic potential and after so many years without a striker who we can rely on for goals, I understand why everyone is getting so excited about young Parrott.

From what I have seen of him so far, I’m of the view that Parrott should be in the Ireland senior squad as we need any striking options we can get and yet the people who will know best are Mick and Ireland Under-21 boss Stephen Kenny.

They need to get together in the next couple of weeks and make a call on this lad because it may be better for him to cut his teeth at Under-21 level and work his way towards the senior team when Kenny takes over as manager.

Mick might only have three games left as Ireland manager after this decision to give him just one qualifying campaign to get our national team back on track, so it will be an interesting discussion if he makes his claim to get Parrott into the senior squad.

On the other hand, Kenny will be keen to keep all his players together as they try to qualify for the Under-21 championships and as we saw when the last great batch of talent emerged through the Irish ranks, playing for the underage teams helped their development.

At the back end of my Ireland career, Brian Kerr was working with a great set of young players who came in to take our places when our days in green were over.

Shay Given, John O’Shea, Damien Duff and Robbie Keane were among those in that batch and now there is real hope that Ireland has a crop of talented players bursting through and offering real hope for a bright future.

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It’s strange how football seems to run in cycles. After so many years asking when the next set of great Irish players would arrive, we suddenly have a group with real potential bursting through at a time when the national team needs a lift.

We have seen this kind of explosion of talent with England when David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Michael Owen burst through and there was also a surge of talent in Wales as they made it through to the Euro 2016 semi-finals.

It would be great to think we can look forward to something similar for Ireland in the next few years, with four or five of the players making their mark in the Under-21 side being tipped to go on and shine at senior level.

I haven’t seen too much of young Parrott, but I know he has made a big impression with Tottenham fans and their manager Mauricio Pochettino, who is a great judge of young talent.

Thankfully, we don’t have any concerns that he will be fleeing the Irish cause as we saw with Declan Rice last year as he is Dublin born and bred and proud to wear the green jersey, as I was during my career with Ireland.

Now it’s all a question of deciding when to get these lads into the Ireland senior squad and that is very much a judgement call for McCarthy and Kenny.

Can we really threw Parrott into a vital qualifier away in Georgia for his first international?

It may be asking too much for him to be expected to perform at that high level on the first day of his senior international career, but I would be tempted to have him on the bench and throw him into the fray in the final 20 minutes if we need a goal.

Herald Sport



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