Troy Parrott needs to play in the Ireland team, not the U21s
Troy Parrott looks like he could be the real deal.
The gifted 17-year-old looks like the best Irish prospect since Robbie Keane and his impressive pre-season performances with Tottenham Hotspurs have earned him a place in Mick McCarthy's Ireland squad for the upcoming UEFA EURO 2020 European Qualifier against Switzerland on September 5 and the Three International Friendly against Bulgaria five days later.
Parrott joins Stoke City's Nathan Collins and Doncaster Rovers midfielder Kieran Sadlier as the new faces in the 40-man Ireland squad, which will eventually be whittled down to 23 come matchday, but it seems like Parrott will have to do more to make the final cut.
Parrott impressed mightily for Spurs during the pre-season and has been a shining light in the club's youth teams for sometime, which has led first team manager Mauricio Pochettino to leave the door open for him in the club's senior team.
"We’re working with the [young] players, trying to provide the best platform and possibility for them to perform and be comfortable with the first team," Pochettino said after Spurs' International Champions Cup game against Juventus in Shanghai last month.
“He’s still so young but we’ll see what happens at the end of the transfer window. if we have the squad that we have today, of course he’s going to have the possibility to be with the first team.”
Pochettino, a Champions League finalist and one of the most revered managers in football, is open to playing Parrott this season but Ireland manager Mick McCarthy wants to see more before he considers him for a side that has scored just three goals in over 180 minutes against Gibraltar.
"If I'm not going to play them against Switzerland, they will travel with Stephen. I'm not going to deprive Stephen of players when I'm not going to use them," said McCarthy of his Ireland U21 eligible players (via the Irish Independent).
"If Troy gets in for Spurs and he scores a few goals and he's brilliant, I might have a different (thought) process on that.
"I was interested to see him in pre-season games and more interested to see that he wasn't involved in the first game of season.
"If he gets in (Spurs side) in the next couple of games, he's going to cause me a problem and cause Stephen a problem. He's not there yet."
McCarthy's current list of forwards look like this - Scott Hogan (0 international goals from three games), Callum Robinson (o goals in eight games), Shane Long (That goal against Germany and 16 others in 82 games), Michael Obafemi (0 goals in one game), David McGoldrick (0 goals in 10 games), James Collins (uncapped), Aiden O'Brien (1 goal from four games) Seanie Maguire (0 goals from four games).
McCarthy has a group of forwards that have returned just 18 goals in a combined 112 international games yet he expects a 17-year-old to break into a team with Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Heung Min-Son before he's considered for selection.
Ireland have just two forwards that have scored in international football and one of them is Shane Long, who has a record just slightly better than one goal in every five international games.
What is he waiting for? Ireland's forward stocks have been about as bare as they ever have been and here comes along our most talented prospect in the last two decades and he's been effectively told he has to become the first Irish player since John O'Shea to play regularly at a top six club just to survive the provisional squad.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 16, 2019
Whatever you take from underage games and pre-season fixtures, is Parrott not worth a shot given that just two of your eight forwards have scored goals in international football?
McCarthy may want to see more from Parrott but his assistant Robbie Keane has certainly watched enough of him to be convinced that he could be a top player.
"He has the mentality. I went over and met him at Tottenham and had lunch with him and I just wanted to have a chat to see where he was," said Keane earlier this summer.
"He definitely has the right temperament to be a top player and the manager [Pochettino] thinks very highly of him but when the opportunity comes for him he has to take it.
"He needs to develop and continue to keep scoring goals. I know he got injured towards the end of the season but he needs to keep developing, keep watching, keep learning, keep listening.
"Speak to Harry Kane. Watch Harry Kane. Watch what he does. What his movement is like. As young kids, I used to do it myself, watch top players because you can learn a lot from that."
Parrott has proven that he can play at every level that he's been exposed to over the years and international football would be a more gradual step up for him than the Premier League, especially when Ireland's forwards score just 16 goals for every 100 matches they play.
At 17 there's no real rush with Parrott. He's going to play for Ireland eventually but it's laughable that breaking into a Spurs squad that made the Champions League final has now become the bar for him when Irish forward stocks have been at an all-time low.
Daryl Murphy scored three goals for Ireland and he was capped 32 times. We now can't take a flier on a 17-year-old?