Luca Connell at a Republic of Ireland press conference at Campus, Quinto do Lago, Faro, Portugal, on May 22.
Exciting young midfielder Luca Connell had to leave of the Irish squad for this weekend European Championship games against Denmark and Gibraltar after injuring his thigh in training. But the 18 year-old Bolton Wanderers midfielder has assured manager Mick McCarthy that he sees his long-term future with the Republic of Ireland. The Liverpool-born starlet had played his way into McCarthy’s squad after impressing on a training camp in Portugal two weeks back. Connell is expected to leave Bolton this summer with several EPL clubs on his trail and reports of English FA interest in the midfielder had raised fears around his intentions after the loss of Jack Grealish and Declan Rice in recent seasons. However, McCarthy said that he had a positive chat with Connell about his position.
McCarthy said: ‘‘I asked him if I put him on for three minutes, in one of the games, somewhere down the line, would he be annoyed with me or did he really want to play for Ireland. And he said, ‘I want to play for Ireland, that’s what I want to do.’ It’s funny, because of the set of circumstances that have happened we question everyone now. But I am happy that he wants to play for Ireland.’’
It’s understood that Connell will travel with the Irish under 19 squad to the finals in Armenia later this summer. McCarthy has indicated that he will stick with much the same XI that beat Gibraltar and Georgia in March, so the team on Friday night should not contain any surprises.