Evan Ferguson has the potential to be a superstar, but Irish fans must resist the temptation to heap pressure on him according to former Republic of Ireland striker Kevin Doyle.
A lot has been made of the 18-year-old wunderkind at Brighton & Hove Albion. With three goals and two assists in his seven matches this season, the striker seems to be Ireland's next hope in the search for international goals.
While many have seen the potential for the Meath man to be a future superstar, Doyle feels that we've heard this record before. The likes of Troy Parrott, Aaron Connolly and others in recent years have all received high praise, before falling to the wayside just as quickly.
Speaking on Football Saturday, Doyle expressed the importance of not putting too much pressure and hope on a teenager.
Ferguson has all the attributes
While he admitted that, from the outside looking in, Ferguson has everything he needs to be a star, Doyle wants to see what he can do up close.
"He looks like he's got such potential," Doyle said. "Physically, size wise, his ability to score goals, any type of goal from what I've seen.
"I'd love to see him live actually to watch him play for 90 minutes. I might get that chance with Ireland. You can only take so much from highlights and from cameras at games. I really want to see him and watch him up close."
Doyle is cautious to call Ferguson Ireland's next shining hope. With the search for first-choice, undroppable centre forward still ongoing, seemingly endlessly, Doyle admits the temptation is always there to jump behind the next big player.
However, he advises fans to be patient with Ferguson.
"He has great potential, but you know the way we've had over the last few years, players like Troy Parrott, and he's doing really well, but he was so bigged up and there was so much pressure," Doyle said.
"I suppose it's because we're desperate now for a new centre-forward. We put a lot of pressure on young lads and analyse them every week. If they score a goal they are hyped up so much.
"If they have a bad few months, thinking of Aaron Connolly who's another one that started really well and then just disappeared a little bit.
"You want him to learn. He's so young, only 18. He's so much to learn that you don't want to be looking on him week on week.
"But he has all the attributes from what I've seen. Physically he doesn't look like an 18-year-old. He's getting games, scoring goals and making an impact, that's so important. Honestly could be a superstar, or in a year or two we mightn't be talking about him anymore."
Stephen Kenny's Ireland will take on France in their next UEFA Euros qualifier tie in Dublin on March 27th. With the form that Ferguson is in, many believe he will be involved in some capacity on the day.
While Doyle hopes to see him live for a full 90 minutes, he doubts that France is the right time to throw a young striker into a match where he will likely see much less of the ball than he's used to.
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