King: U21 star Murray 'was close' to senior call-up
IRELAND U21 star Sean Murray is on the verge of a call-up to the senior squad after an impressive run of form for Watford and the national U21 side.
Murray only turned 20 last month, but he has become an important figure for Gianfranco Zola's Watford this season, scoring four goals in 13 games. He has also won eight U21 caps.
The winger is expected to hook up with the U21 side next week for their European Championship qualifiers against the Faroe Islands (home) and Montenegro (away), but he came close to making it into the senior panel last month and again for the friendly games against Latvia and Poland.
"Sean was considered for the senior squad, I can say that much," said Noel King, caretaker boss for the games against Germany and Kazakhstan last month, who also selected the 27-man squad for the senior games this month.
"Sean was close, though it wouldn't be fair for me to say if he was in the provisional squad of 40 this time. Sean has been in very good form for his club and he's a key player for our U21s.
"He has a lot going for him, he has a nice touch, he scores goals, he creates things for other players, and he is a very dedicated professional. He's a pleasure to work with," added King.
Murray was born in Watford and came up though the ranks at Vicarage Road, with Manchester City tailing the player some time ago. He qualifies for Ireland as his grandparents are from Cabra, on Dublin's northside, and after featuring for the U19 side which reached the semi-finals of the European Championship finals in 2011, he graduated to the U21 panel.
King confirmed that he has ended his involvement with the senior squad as he resumes duties with the U21s.
"It was a great experience and an honour to work with the seniors, but it's the U21 squad that I am concerned with now," said King.
"I think the players came away from the two games, against Germany and Kazakhstan, with great credit and the players who are in the squad for the Latvia and Poland matches deserve to be there."
After a return of just one point from the last three qualifiers, the U21s need a good display against the Faroes in Sligo next Friday to take to Montenegro the following week.