Ireland U21 boss: We must sort out Mipo Odubeko situation once and for all

The Tallaght-born West Ham striker last represented Ireland back in March 2019 in an U17 friendly
Ireland U21 boss: We must sort out Mipo Odubeko situation once and for all

Mipo Odubeko: The Tallaght-born West Ham striker last represented Ireland back in March 2019 in an U17 friendly. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Ireland U21 boss Jim Crawford wants to put Mipo Odubeko’s international future “to bed” as the West Ham United striker continues to stall on a decision.

The Tallaght-born forward last represented Ireland back in March 2019 in an U17 friendly but, even as his club career advanced to making first-team appearances, he remains stung at being dropped by Colin O’Brien for the Euro U17 finals two months later.

That disappointment – rather than any influence of his agent or potential competition from Nigeria or England for his allegiance – sits at the centre of his hesitancy.

The 18-year-old withdrew from the U21 squad just days before a friendly in Wales in March and requested not to be considered for this latest camp in Spain.

Crawford’s new side face Switzerland tomorrow in Marbella (11am, Premier Sports 1/ FreeSports), the first friendly ahead of two more against Australia on Wednesday and Denmark next Saturday.

Crawford, who knows the player from his younger days on the Dublin schoolboy circuit, appears to want clarity before his European qualifier kick off in September with a tricky away double-header in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Luxembourg.

“I haven't heard anything. Up to now, the situation still stands for myself and I suppose I'll be focusing on the players that are here," he said today.

“For me, all I can say is that I’d like to sit down with Mipo. Whether I can get over to the UK and have a chat with Mipo to see what his thoughts and plans are regarding international football. We can just put it to bed.

“As I said before, it’s an unbelievable opportunity for a young striker to get involved with the 21s.” Asked about his awareness of the player’s hurt as being dropped for the Euros, which Ireland had home advantage for, Crawford added: “I was aware of it. It’s just one of those things. Okay, according to him, he didn’t have a good experience. If you ask anybody else involved in that squad, they’ll say ‘yeah. it was a great experience’. Everybody is different.

“At the end of the day, we’ve a lot of talent here too. I’ve mentioned the players but there’s other who missed out through injury who are all talented.

“I’d like to sit down for a chat with Mipo when I get back. As I said, to see what his thoughts are and get a concrete answer.” U21 midfielder Conor Coventry is staying clear of trying to persuade his Hammers teammate to resolve the issue even if Ireland would be getting a “top player”.

“If I’m honest, I don’t know too much about it,” Coventry straight-batted when asked at this morning’s pre-match press conference.

I know Mipo is a top player with great potential. It’s his decision and we’ll respect it either way.

“We’re all here in this camp and everybody is doing really well. That’s the main aim for us, to keep the competition high and really push each other.”

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND squad (vs Switzerland, Australia and Denmark)

Goalkeepers: Sam Blair (Norwich City), Brian Maher (Bray Wanderers), Dan Rose (Schalke 04).

Defenders: Anselmo Garcia MacNulty (Wolfsburg), Festy Ebosele (Derby County), Shane Flynn (Leicester City), Andy Lyons (Bohemians), Oisin McEntee (Newcastle United), Mark McGuinness (Arsenal), Lewis Richards (Wolves), Sean Roughan (Lincoln City).

Midfielders: Bosun Lawal (Watford), Luca Connell (Celtic), Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Dawson Devoy (Bohemians), Alex Gilbert (Brentford), Conor Grant (Rochdale), Ryan Johansson (Sevilla), Conor Noss (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Louie Watson (Derby County).

Forwards: Jonathan Afolabi (Celtic), Will Ferry (Southampton), Joshua ‘JJ’ Kayode (Rotherham United), Gavin Kilkenny (Bournemouth), Colm Whelan (UCD), Tyreik Wright (Aston Villa).

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