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'Realistically, they have to perform at club level' | Kelly on u21s young guns

Eoin Harte
Eoin Harte

05:33 19 Oct 2019

Former Ireland international Stephen Kelly was on The Football Show and shared some concerns about how good the u21s team really are.

The u21s Republic of Ireland team have performed very well under the tutelage of Stephen Kenny, who is due to take over as the manager of the senior team next year.

However, while Kelly is impressed by what he has seen from the underage side he thinks it would be a mistake to bring them into the senior side without performing in senior club football first.

“When people talk about Stephen Kenny, for me, I think everyone’s looking forward to it and thinking it’s going to be great and saying ‘Let’s bring all the u21s up.’

“But realistically, those u21 players are going to have to perform at the level of club level if they want to get a senior international cap.

“If they were doing that now at their club they’d be like Aaron Connolly and they’d be in the first team. It’s great that we’re having this style of football and have progressed them. And that’s fantastic.

“But you can’t automatically, just because you played u21s with Stephen Kenny, come into the senior team, Kelly said.

Aaron Connolly only got a call-up to the Irish senior team after a starring cameo for Brighton against Tottenham where he scored two goals.

Kelly feels that this should be the norm when bringing young players into the side.

“Unless at club level you’re performing to a level or high enough standard that would warrant you to get a senior cap. You have to do it at club.

“So if these players are doing it at u21s but then don’t step up or don’t progress they’re not going to step up into the senior team.

“I can’t see that. I can’t just see him bringing people in if they’ve done well for the underage.

“It’s a huge step up. If you can’t show it at senior level at club football I’m not sure you can really go and trust him in international football,” Kelly commented.

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