Monday 11 December 2017

FAI crank up star search

U21 boss King chases Bamford

THE FAI are stepping up a player recruitment drive that could land them highly-rated forwards Patrick Bamford and Liam McAlinden.

Bamford earned some praise earlier this week when he scored for MK Dons in their narrow League Cup defeat away to Sunderland – the forward is on loan to the Dons from Chelsea, who thought enough of Bamford to shell out £1.5million for him last year.

The 19-year-old qualifies for Ireland and played once for the Republic, in an U18 game against the Czech Republic in 2010 but subsequently he declared for England, winning U19 caps and he was named in England's provisional squad for the U20 World Cup finals earlier this year.



But Ireland U21 team boss Noel King, who has just named his squad for the September 9 European Championship qualifier at home to Germany, says that he's on the tail of Bamford, as well as Wolves prospect McAlinden, an English-born player who has played at underage level for Northern Ireland but has now declared for the Republic.

"I spoke to Patrick's father three days ago and it's still on the burner," said King of a possible 'move' to Ireland by Bamford.

"These are huge decisions for any young boy and changing to us would be massive for him, you can understand why he needs time to make the right decision and I am ok with that.

"Liam's case is in with FIFA and we are waiting to see what happens. He has declared and he wants to play for us, he has done all the paperwork, it's just to wait for the verdict from FIFA."

King has picked a strong squad for the clash with Germany in Sligo, with Anthony Forde (Wolves) and Derrick Williams (Bristol City) back in the panel following suspension but there are no home-based players, with recent caps Christopher Forrester (St Pats) and Barry McNamee (Derry City) missing out though they remain in the manager's plans along with David O'Leary (Limerick) and Daryl Horgan (Cork City).

The Germany game is a big test for King's side, who enjoyed a superb start to the new Euro qualifying camp with a 4-1 win away to the Faroe Islands earlier this month.

The Germans, bruised by a disappointing performance at the U21 European finals in Israel earlier this year, have appointed legend Horst Hrubesch as manager and he has a talented squad to pick from, with German teens Max Meyer and Julian Draxler, who starred for Schalke in their Champions League win this week, struggling to even get into the U21 panel.

"Germany could field two or three teams at any age group, they will always have a good side out," added King.

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