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01st Mar 2023

Roy Keane praises Mark Sykes for making ‘brave’ switch from Northern Ireland to Ireland

Robert Redmond

Roy Keane Mark Sykes

“He made a big decision a few months ago.”

Roy Keane praised Mark Sykes for making a ‘brave’ decision to switch international allegiance from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland.

Sykes became the first Belfast-born player to represent the Republic since the 1940s when he made his debut for Stephen Kenny’s team in a friendly against Malta last November.

The Bristol City winger represented Northern Ireland at underage level and was called up to their senior team before he made the decision to switch allegiance in 2019.

Roy Keane praises Mark Sykes for making ‘brave’ switch international switch.

Keane, speaking ahead of seeing Sykes in action for Bristol City against Manchester City in the FA Cup, praised Sykes for making the switch.

“He made a big decision a few months ago in declaring that he wanted to play for Ireland after coming through playing underage with Northern Ireland,” Keane said on ITV on Tuesday night.

“He’s obviously a brave boy, he made a brave decision there.”

Keane also offered viewers insight into the type of player Sykes is, and praised the player’s versatility.

“Sykes is obviously a good player, it was a good move for him in the summer,” the former Ireland captain said.

“He’s a talented boy, he can play in a number of positions – he has even played at wingback. It’s a good opportunity for him tonight, these lads have worked hard throughout their careers.

“He has been down in the lower leagues and got a move from Oxford United in League One. It’s a nice test for him.”

Sykes, 25, played 90 minutes for Bristol in their 3-0 loss against Man City on Tuesday evening at Ashton Gate.

The winger joined the Championship side from Oxford United last summer. He has made 31 appearances for the club and scored five goals.

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