As the Republic of Ireland look towards a World Cup qualifying campaign, Oisin McQueirns picks out five youngsters to watch out for.
Louie Watson (Derby County)
We begin with Derby County’s newest youngster, attacking midfielder Louie Watson. The 19-year-old has made four appearances for Wayne Rooney’s side this season as he looks to follow in footsteps of fellow Irish midfielder Jason Knight at the iPro.
Watson was born in London but has more recently represented Ireland at U18 level and has previously spoken of his pride at representing the Boys in Green.
The young attacking midfielder arrived at Derby from West Ham in the summer and can operate in either the ‘4’, ‘8’ or ‘10’ role in the midfield.
Irish fans will be hoping the influence of Rooney, who recently praised Watson can help the 19-year-old cement himself in the Derby first team.
Conor Carty (Wolves)
Wolves might be better known for their Portuguese talent these days, but waiting in the wings of Molineux to make the step-up is Wicklow native Conor Carty.
An Irish U18 international, Carty mainly operates as a centre-forward and recently bagged a hat-trick for Wolves’ U23s in a friendly against West Brom.
The 18-year-old has featured 11 times in the Premier League 2 for Wolves’ U23s this season in addition to playing with the club’s U18s.
Carty may still be a couple of years away yet, but if he can continue impressing at underage level, the young striker will be difficult to ignore.
Shane Flynn (Leicester City)
On the fringes of the first team at Leicester City, Shane Flynn (or Sean Flynn, if you ask Sky Sports), is an Irish player who won’t stay under the radar much longer.
A left-back for the side’s U23s but capable of operating anywhere on the left hand-side, Flynn was named on the bench for the Foxes’ last three games in the Europa League.
Flynn also featured in Leicester’s Premier League squad for the first time as he was among the substitutes in their 2-1 win over Brighton.
The former Bray Wanderers man will likely be in contention for an U21s call-up later this month and it’s only a matter of time before he makes his first team bow for the Foxes.
Tom Cannon (Everton)
Prolific strikers have been few and far between for Ireland over the past few years, however Everton youngster Tom Cannon is certainly a reason to be optimistic about the future.
Since the start of the 2019/20 season, Cannon has netted 21 times in 29 U18 Premier League games and has managed to step up to the side’s U23s during this campaign.
Cannon was born in England but has played for Ireland’s U19s and was recently awarded his first professional contract at Everton after his impressive displays at underage level.
A frontman with an eye for goal, big things are expected from Cannon at Goodison Park in the coming years.
Johnny Kenny (Sligo Rovers)
The only domestic player to feature in our top five, Sligo Rovers’ Johnny Kenny has been a goal machine at underage level for the Bit ‘O’ red.
Top scorer in the U17s Airtricity League last season with 17 goals, Kenny stepped up to the U19s and managed two goals in the Shield semi-final and a very impressive four in the final, to take his total to 23 for the season.
The 17-year-old recently signed his first professional contract with Sligo and has already bagged four goals in pre-season , with his rise showing no signs of stopping.