Troy Parrott return a boost for Ireland U21s ahead of crucial qualifiers

He is joined in Jim Crawford's latest squad by Lee O'Connor, Jason Knight, and Michael Obafemi who, like him, have already made their senior Ireland debuts
Troy Parrott return a boost for Ireland U21s ahead of crucial qualifiers

Troy Parrott. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Ireland U21 boss Jim Crawford will be sparing in his use of Troy Parrott after naming the highly-rated teenager in the squad to face Iceland and Luxembourg in two crucial European qualifiers later this month.

Parrott has played just 45 minutes of competitive football this term since joining Millwall on loan from Tottenham. He hasn't been seen on a pitch since late September when he injured an ankle and his club manager Gary Rowett was none too keen on the idea of him linking up with his country.

Crawford confirmed that he did not have a conversation with Rowett about the player who has been a key part of the U21s' campaign to date but added that a club manager being less than happy with players going away on international duty was not anything new.

"That's just the nature of the beast,” said Crawford after naming a 24-man group for the upcoming games. 

“I spoke to Troy and he is eager to represent his country. I know he is available for selection for Millwall (against Sheffield Wednesday) tomorrow and he is training well.

“It's about us and the Millwall medical team coming up with some sort of agreement with regards to what will suit the player as regards minutes. He hasn’t played competitively since the ankle injury so we all understand that. We're not going to put anyone at risk.” 

Parrott is the U21s' top scorer in Group One with four to date and he is joined in Jim Crawford's squad by Lee O'Connor, Jason Knight, and Michael Obafemi who, like him, have already made their senior Ireland debuts.

U19 international Mark McGuinness has been called up to this grade for the first time although Southamton's Will Smallbone misses out through injury having made his debut in the defeat to Italy last month.

Ireland sit second in their group, behind Italy on goal difference, but only one point separates the top four sides – Italy, Ireland, Iceland, and Sweden – as things stand.

Any number of permutations are still possible but Ireland know that they will secure second spot and the guarantee of, at the very least, a play-off place that comes with it if they defeat Iceland and Luxembourg later this month.

The top five runners-up progress automatically to the 2021 finals, which have been delayed 12 months due to Covid. Ireland, who have never qualified for a major tournament at the grade before, are currently ranked fifth in that regard.

“It would be an unbelievable platform for them to go and show Europe and worldwide the potential they have and to play against the top teams in Europe,” said Crawford of his squad. 

“It's something that would excite the players and the staff too.

“We got a snippet of it when we went and played the Toulon tournament and the players showed they were more than capable of playing against Brazil and China. They want more of that. This is the window that can make it happen, six points.

“It would be an unbelievable opportunity for them.”

Republic of Ireland U21 squad:
Goalkeepers:
Gavin Bazunu (Rochdale, on loan from Manchester City), Ed McGinty (Sligo Rovers)
Defenders: Nathan Collins (Stoke City), Darragh Leahy (Dundalk), Conor Masterson (Queens Park Rangers), Mark McGuinness (Ipswich Town, on loan from Arsenal), Danny McNamara (St Johnstone, on loan from Millwall), Lee O’Connor (Tranmere Rovers, on loan from Celtic), Thomas O’Connor (Gillingham, on loan from Southampton), Liam Scales (Shamrock Rovers)
Midfielders: Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Luca Connell (Celtic), Will Ferry (Southampton), Jason Knight (Derby County), Danny Mandroiu (Bohemians), Connor Ronan (Grasshopper Zurich, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers), Anthony Scully (Lincoln City), Jack Taylor (Peterborough United)
Forwards: Jonathan Afolabi (Dundee, on loan from Celtic), Zack Elbouzedi (Lincoln City), Danny Grant (Bohemians), Joshua Kayode (Carlisle United, on loan from Rotherham United), Michael Obafemi (Southampton), Troy Parrott (Millwall, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur)

UEFA Under-21 European Championship qualifiers:
Nov 15: Republic of Ireland v Iceland, Tallaght Stadium, 12.30pm (Live on eir Sport)
Nov 18: Luxembourg v Republic of Ireland, Beggen, 4.30pm (Irish time)

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