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02nd Jun 2024

Tom Cannon says he turned down approach from England to play for Ireland

Ronan Calvert

Tom Cannon

Ireland call-up Tom Cannon has underlined his commitment to the team.

It took Tom Cannon some time to emphasise his commitment to the Republic of Ireland Under-21s or the Ireland senior team.

The Leicester striker scored in an Ireland Under-21 friendly in March 2023 but has never played a competitive game for them having rejected a couple of call-ups for disputed reasons.

Rumours circulated that Cannon was set to turn his back on Ireland but speaking ahead of Tuesday’s senior international friendly against Hungary, the new call-up has insisted that he never had any doubts about his international allegiances.

“It is just that you newspapers like to create stories and headlines about England,” he said when asked if he was always committed to playing for the Boys in Green.

“I have always been committed to Ireland, hence why I am here.

“I would not even say I was in two minds. It was more of a case that when I have been called up to play for Ireland, I have come.

“Previously when call-ups have come, I have arrived here. Under Stephen Kenny, I had tonsillitis, so obviously I could not come into camp.”


Cannon made a name for himself when he scored eight goals in the second half of the 2022/2023 season on loan at Preston North End from Everton.

Three months later he was rewarded with an invitation to an Ireland senior training camp in Bristol. However, while “tonsilitis” was given as the reason for his absence, then-manager Stephen Kenny commented that Cannon “has taken a bit of time out [to think]”.

His clear goalscoring ability triggered interest from Lee Carsley’s England under-21s, his agent was contacted, and fears were stirred that another dual-national prospect could be lost just like Jack Grealish and Declan Rice before.

Then, when Cannon missed more Ireland under-21 fixtures, manager Jim Crawford was effectively forced into speaking about potentially losing the Liverpool-born striker to the Three Lions.

“With dual-nationality, there is every chance the other nation will be interested and make an approach,” said Crawford on the matter.

“I’m not surprised. He went through a real purple patch with Preston at the end of the season.

“Tom is a very good player, what we have here with the Republic of Ireland, is a real sort of concrete pathway with players.

“I always knew that he was going to attract attention, but it’s now up to himself what he wants to do.”

Cannon was later rewarded with a permanent move to Leicester City but failed to make much of an impression in their title-winning campaign, as he scored two goals in just thirteen appearances.

Still, he was approached by John O’Shea to feature in the March friendlies against Belgium and Switzerland but decided it was best to manage his body.

“When John O’Shea called me up the last time I was getting over an injury, so I just wanted to maintain my form at Leicester and see the season out.

“It all came all at once. So I just wanted to take a step back from it,” he explained.

“It is something you do have to think about, because of the scenario.

“It never really entered my head in terms of I am going to have to pick one over the other, more [a case] of taking a step back from it and looking at the situation and going from there.”

Cannon, who has also represented Ireland at under-19 and under-20 level, elaborated to recall summers in Mayo and Galway with his Irish family.

“My dad’s mum and dad are Castlebar, and my mum’s family are Galway, from Moycullen.

“Every summer as I can remember as a kid, I’d mainly visit my dad’s side in Castlebar, because that is where cousins live. We’d go over every summer,

A debut against Hungary on Tuesday could make the summer of 2024 another to remember for Tom and the whole Cannon family.

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