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Wednesday 16 October 2019

Kelly: Travers can aim for No 1

Alan Kelly
Alan Kelly

It's been a while since an Irish players managed to establish themselves in the Premier League while in their teens, and for an Irish goalkeeper to do that is even rarer.

But former Ireland No 1 Alan Kelly, now back on the staff with the national team as Mick McCarthy's goalkeeping coach, feels that Mark Travers has what it takes to build on his early success with Bournemouth and make a real name for himself.

The Maynooth lad was still a teenager when he made his Premier League debut for the Cherries earlier this month, though he has since turned 20.

Kelly is a long-time admirer of the former Lucan United and Shamrock Rovers player, admitting that he tried to get his former club Preston to sign Travers from the Hoops, only for the player to move to Bournemouth.

Travers kept a clean sheet and helped his side win on his Premier League debut, against Spurs, and that's the sort of form which has convinced Kelly that Travers, who is in Portugal with the Ireland senior squad this week, has what it takes.

"If you are good enough you are old enough," says Kelly, who worked with Travers when he was called into the Ireland squad for the qualifiers in March.

"With the younger ones, they will have a little blip every now and again, it's managing to ride that out.

"When you are in the Premier League it's easier said than done as the pressure to stay in that league and get points is different but I think he has put himself in the situation where he is challenging to be number one," added Kelly, who feels that Cherries boss How and his staff may have been surprised at how well the youngster did.

"He went in there and got man of the match as they won the game, which was important for them where they were at the time and he has put down a real marker. He's saying he's not just there to have a couple of games as the next young prospect, he's saying I want to challenge, give me the opportunity to challenge.

"When he was here in March we didn't know a lot about him but he made his mark, everyone said what an impressive goalkeeper, and an impressive young man, he was."

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