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15th Mar 2024

John O’Shea explains why prospect isn’t in Ireland squad amid England concerns

Lee Costello

John O'Shea

“It’s as simple as that.”

Interim Republic of Ireland manager John O’Shea has explained why prospect Tom Cannon isn’t in the national squad amid concerns that he could declare for England.

Ireland have an unfortunate history of watching talented youth players declare for the English despite wearing the green jersey at youth level, with Declan Rice and Jack Grealish being the prime examples.

The Leicester City striker made his debut for the Ireland Under-21 squad last year, scoring against Iceland. However, when the summer window of internationals came around, then-manager Stephen Kenny revealed that the FA were attempting to persuade Cannon to declare for England.

The young forward was born in Englan and has not represented Ireland since. So, when O’Shea announced the squad with his name absent from the list, there was concern that he might have made the switch.

However, speaking to the media on Thursday, the caretaker manager played down any such rumours.

“Tom’s concentrating on his club stuff, it’s as simple as that. That was it.

“I’ve no worries like that [Cannon declaring for England] at all.”

John O’Shea’s squad selection highlights his open-minded approach.

The return of Robbie Brady and Callum O’Dowda also highlights that O’Shea is willing to give players another crack at the whip, so an open-minded approach was taken.

The ex-Man United defender’s selection also included first-time squad members Finn Azaz and Jake O’Brien. The uncapped Sammie Szmodics, who could have potentially been snapped up by Hungary, has also been included in the squad.

The Blackburn star has been in brilliant form lately, so it was a no-brainer when it came to selecting him for the national team.

“It was very straightforward,” said O’Shea. “One of the first games I went to, I went to watch Blackburn v Millwall. Michael Obafemi was obviously playing as well.

“Any of the conversations I’ve had with Sammie, they were all straightforward. He’s buzzing, he’s delighted to be coming in.

“It’s great to have a player in such good form consistently all season, too. He’s got that versatility in terms of where he’s playing at the minute as well. He’s floating from a striker into a 10 position too.

“As I said, it’s great to have an option like that to bring into the squad.”

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