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Manning finally coming of age for his country

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Ryan Manning

Ryan Manning

SPORTSFILE

Ryan Manning

For someone who was out of the blocks at a ridiculously young age, Ryan Manning (right) has had to wait for his career to really kick off.

That career should move up to another level for the 24-year-old in Helsinki tonight, where he hopes to make his senior international debut, 12 months after the first time he was named in a provisional Ireland squad by Mick McCarthy.

A cap would be a reward for the work done by Manning in a career which began in the League of Ireland at 16 followed by a move to the then Premier League side QPR in January 2015.

While Troy Parrott was capped at senior level before he'd played a single game of club football, Manning remains uncapped despite a return of over 150 league games across seven seasons in two countries. QPR made him wait for 16 months between signing him and giving him a game.

He's also needed patience at international level, but is now at a stage where he can at least challenge for the left-back slot he has adopted at club level, having moved away as a striker.

An Ireland cap would also be a welcome piece of good news after what's been a difficult start to the season for Manning at club level: QPR have played four league games this season but without Manning, who appears to have been sidelined in a standoff between club and player over his contractual status.

With seven goals from 87 league games, QPR have certainly got value from the estimated €80,000 they paid Galway United for Manning five years ago, but he's out of contract at the end of this season and able to leave on a free transfer.

Championship clubs have been linked with the Galway native and as the transfer window outside the Premier League remains open until Friday, there's time for Manning and his agent to carry on talks.

A rise to the international stage would be a reward for the path he has taken. There was a lot of talk about Manning in local soccer circles in Galway even before his first-team debut for Mervue United in the First Division early in the 2013 season, when he scored against Galway rivals Salthill Devon.

Turning 17 midway through the season, Manning scored nine times in 28 games and helped Johnny Glynn's Mervue get to the promotion play-offs, where they lost to Longford Town.

The 2014 season saw football in the city unite behind a new club, Galway FC and, again, Manning rose to the challenge as this time the side not only made the playoffs but got promoted. By this stage he was too big for Galway and, after interest from a number of clubs, QPR made the right offer, signing Manning in January 2015.

Tonight, Helsinki could be heaven for the Galway man.