herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

White and Barton enjoying action with Under 21s after switching to Ireland

IN THE PAST, they've worn the white shirt of England and the green jersey of Northern Ireland -- but the English-born duo of Aidan White and Adam Barton are now fully signed-up members of the Republic of Ireland scene.

Former England youth cap White made his first competitive appearance in an Ireland shirt at any level in last week's impressive 2-1 win for Noel King's U21 side against Hungary in Sligo --having made his debut last month against Austria -- and he's set to win his third cap tonight in another qualifier away to Turkey.



WELCOMED

Preston midfielder Barton had worn the green before, making his debut for the Republic's U21s against Portugal last March, but he'd also played in green for Northern Ireland, winning a senior cap against Morocco last year before his conversion to the Republic cause.

The side which beat Hungary had a strong English accent with six 'Anglos' in the starting XI, but the new recruits insist they have been welcomed into the fold with open arms despite the fact that they'd already played for other countries.

"I was made (to) feel like one of the lads from the first minute I came in, it was never an issue that I'd played for England before," said White.

The 19-year-old now hopes to follow the example of players like Steven Reid, Dean Kiely and Andy O'Brien, who all went on to have senior careers with the Republic despite playing for England's youths early on in their careers.

"My grandad on my dad's side is from Wexford, he died when I was six but I do feel very proud playing for Ireland," added White.

"I played for England when I was 16, played up to the U19s and was involved for a fair bit, but then the opportunity came up to play for Ireland and I was happy to do it, I really enjoyed my debut.



PROUD

"We wanted to start off the group with a win, and hopefully we can move on from there with another good display against Turkey tonight.

"I had played for England but I do have Irish blood in me, and the offer to play for Ireland was something I couldn't turn down, the chance to play international football and I know my family were proud to see me play."

White came up through the ranks at his hometown club Leeds and has been an impressive performer in the Championship this season after returning from a season-long loan spell at Oldham.

Preston's demotion to League One means that fellow midfielder Barton no longer gets to play at Championship level, but Barton could well end up at a higher level if he sustains his progress, as he looked like a player of real potential in last week's win over the Hungarians.



Brilliant

"It was a brilliant way to start the campaign and I hope we can keep that up with another good result against Turkey this evening," said Barton, who qualifies because his maternal grandfather was from Belfast.

"I had a big decision to make on my international career as I'd played for Northern Ireland's senior side.

"I thought about it long and hard but this was an opportunity I couldn't say no to, and hopefully progressing to the senior team is something I can do."

Traditionally a central midfielder, Barton played up front in Thursday's win over Hungary but boss King could push Barton back into midfield tonight as striker Rhys Murphy is out due to injury.

If Ireland win tonight, they would move top of the group, level on points with Turkey, but having played a game less.

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