herald

Sunday 26 February 2017

Wolves man Ronan leads the way for Irish teenage stars

Conor Masterson
Conor Masterson

It's a case of teenage dreams for a batch of young Irish footballers after prospects like Conor Masterson, Connor Ronan and Ryan Sweeney have moved up the ladder.

With no FA Cup action this weekend, Liverpool are in Spain for a training camp and boss Jurgen Klopp boosted the number of his first team travelling party by asking a number of younger players, including Dubliner Masterson, to join in.

Lucan United product Masterson (18) has previously been on the bench for an FA Cup tie.

Promising Irish midfielder Connor Ronan may be "baby-faced" but he has a big future at Wolves, according to manager Paul Lambert.

The 18-year-old, who was born in England but declared for Ireland through his grandparents, has worked his way into the first team in recent weeks, starting two of their last four games and was one of the positives to emerge from their loss to Wigan last week.

Some fears were raised that Ronan would follow Jack Grealish's example and defect to his native England but he remains committed to Ireland and will feature in the U19 qualifies in Belgium next month.

"He's a big talent coming through. He's been terrific in the three games he's played for us," says Lambert.

"His general game is really good and he's only 18. The club's unearthed a talent who, touch wood, has a big part in the future of this club.

"I've got to the stage where you know exactly what you're getting from him. He's comfortable in the first team environment and he thriving on it. The physical presence is deceiving. He's a really strong-bodied young player. Facially he looks a baby and the size and height of him - but if you see him up close he's very powerful in the legs and his body is strong."

Defender Ryan Sweeney (19) is making waves at Bristol Rovers, on loan from Stoke City. "We've been pleased with their performances up to now, but it is important that they can perform to that standard week-in-and-week-out," boss Steve Yates says of the club's loan players.

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