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Monday 18 December 2017

Jack's ambitions have no limits

Republic of Ireland's Jack Byrne. Photo: Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland's Jack Byrne. Photo: Sportsfile

Technically, Jack Byrne is only passing through the Ireland senior squad on his way to resuming duties with his Irish U21 team-mates later on this week.

But the talented 19-year-old, on loan from Manchester City to Dutch side Cambuur, has every confidence that this spell training with Martin O'Neill's senior side will not be a one-off.

In an era when young footballers unthinkingly issue bland statements about taking it one game at a time and keeping the head down to work hard, Byrne's confidence is welcome.

So is his decision to go out on loan to Cambuur - a side currently battling to stay in the Dutch top flight - for a season instead of staying in what he has previously called the "comfort zone" of reserve team football in the Premier League.

MERIT

Getting through to the first team with Ireland and Manchester City is a big target but the Dubliner feels he is here - albeit for training - on merit and will be back.

"I don't think it's ahead of schedule," Byrne said when asked if this summons to train with the seniors, before he rejoins the U21s to prepare for Thursday's Euro qualifier in Waterford, has come a bit early.

"Although I'm not in the squad, I believe in my own ability that I'm as good as anybody in the squad So that's it, I don't think I'm ahead of schedule just because I'm 19.

"I don't really think of it that way. I know a lot of these boys are a lot older than me but I think I can affect whatever I do on a football pitch so it doesn't matter what age I am," Byrne added, unapologetic about his self confidence.

"If you don't believe in yourself, who is going to believe in you? If I went out to Martin (O'Neill) and said I didn't think I was good enough to go to the Euros, he wouldn't bring me," says Byrne.

"He might not bring me anyway if I tell him I'm going to be the best player at the Euros but at the same time you want to go out there and think that you're definitely good enough to wear the green jersey for Ireland.

"I go out on the pitch to impress myself more than anything.

"I don't want to go home from training annoyed because I'm after giving five passes away - simple passes.

"That's my own personal standard and if people are looking in thinking, 'Ah, he can do a job', that's fair enough.

"Hopefully they are looking at me a little bit and thinking, 'Yeah, he is a good player' after this," he said after his first training session with the seniors.

Roy Keane has already spoken positively about Byrne's attitude as well as his ability, that loan spell in Holland offering him a chance to learn, in a tough league where Byrne has already made his mark (Ajax are reportedly keeping tabs, should Manchester City lose interest).

"Playing against Feyenoord and getting in the (Dutch league's) team of the week, getting the player of the week last week, they're all opening windows for next season and maybe they're windows that wouldn't have opened up if I was still at Man City in the second team," he explains.

"So sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and experience something different. It's work and it's taking risks, obviously it's talent as well but it's mostly work and taking risks and going out to Holland, experiencing something new, getting people talking."

Ireland U21

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