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Wednesday 22 May 2019

U21 boss Kenny insists he'll use the Granny rule when he sees fit

Stephen Kenny. Pic: Sportsfile
Stephen Kenny. Pic: Sportsfile

New Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny insist he's not adopting a policy of minimising UK-born players in his squad following the Declan Rice fiasco.

In contrast to his predecessor Noel King, Kenny's first squad selected yesterday for the opening Euro 2021 qualifier against Luxembourg on Sunday week was dominated by Irish-born players. Only two of the 23-man squad - Conor Coventry and Connor Ronan - declared through Irish family links.

Only last week former Ireland captain John O'Shea suggested the FAI may have to alter their approach in capping cadets born outside Ireland as the Rice case, following that of Jack Grealish in 2015, show how loopholes can allow players switch allegiance even after they'd played up to senior level in friendlies.

That the vast majority of his selection were born in Ireland, with eight of them operating in a League of Ireland sector he excelled in, doesn't mean Kenny is pursuing a strategic policy. He scoffed at any notion of the birthplace influencing his criteria.

"That's absolutely not the case," he asserted. "There are no preconceived ideas; that's nothing to do with it.

"If any person emigrates to England, or anywhere else, and they then have children or they have grandchildren, it's only right that they have the ability to play for Ireland. I completely agree with that."

Tottenham's teen sensation Troy Parrott was the standout name on the list but the Dubliner's participation remains in doubt due to injury.

Kenny declined to confirm if his club wanted the striker to play a club game before the Ireland squad assemble on Monday but the FAI have the right to assess him at their base in Dunboyne.

Big things are expected of the former Belvedere product who Mauricio Pochettino promoted to his first-team squad at Christmas and Kenny may well work with him again when he takes the senior job next year.

"Troy had a medical procedure on a toe injury he had for some time," explained Kenny. "We're in contact with the Tottenham medical team and he is somewhat doubtful at this stage."

As Darragh Leahy and Dan Mandroiu (Bohemians), Liam Scales and Neil Farrugia (UCD), Zach Elbouzedi and Aaron Drinan (Waterford), along with Shamrock Rovers left-sided player Trevor Clarke and St. Patrick's Athletic midfielder Jamie Lennon, have all been named, all but one of that weekend's League of Ireland fixtures are postponed.

IRELAND U21 SQUAD (v Luxembourg, Sun March 24, Tallaght Stadium, KO 5.0)

Goalkeepers: C Kelleher (Liverpool), G Bazunu (Manchester City)

Defenders: D Leahy (Bohemians), D O'Shea (Exeter City), B Cotter (Ipswich Town), C Ndaba (Ipswich Town), C Masterson (Liverpool), L O'Connor (Manchester Utd), T Clarke (Shamrock Rvs), L Scales (UCD). Midfielders: J Molumby (Brighton and Hove Albion), J Doyle-Hayes (Cambridge Utd), C Ronan (FC DAC 1904, Slovakia), J Lennon (St. Patrick's Ath), C Coventry (West Ham United), D Mandroiu (Bohemians). Strikers: A Idah (Norwich City), T Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur), N Farrugia (UCD), Z Elbouzedi (Waterford), M O'Connor (Linfield), S Power (FC Dordrecht, Holland), A Drinan (Waterford).

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