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O’Neill hints at Obafemi debut

Michael Obafemi has made the final Republic of Ireland squad to face Northern Ireland and Denmark.

The Southampton teenager made his third Premier League appearance over the weekend, and Martin O’Neill has hinted that the young striker could play against Denmark next week.

“I don’t think I could rule that out,” the Ireland manager said when asked if Obafemi could feature in the UEFA Nations League clash.

“I’d certainly have to have a discussion with him and I think members of his family too.”

Born in Dublin to Nigerian parents, Obafemi grew up in London, and can represent any of Ireland, Nigeria, or England at international level.

“Obviously he has decisions to make for his future,” O’Neill stated.

“I would think that’s something he will discuss with his family. There’ll be no real pressure to make that decision in the next couple of days.

“If he has decisions to make then I’d respect that.”

Obafemi, 18, has represented the Boys in Green at U19 level, but has yet to feature for the U21 side.

The powerful striker has scored four goals for the Southampton U23s this season, and earned praise from first team manager Mark Hughes after coming off the bench against Manchester City last weekend.

The teenager was a late substitute in the Saints’ 1-1 draw with Watford on Saturday, and could be used as an impact sub in the coming months.

He became the club’s second youngest Premier League debutant ever (after Luke Shaw) against Spurs in January, and netted an eye-catching FA Youth Cup hat-trick against Wolves last year.

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher has also been included in the Irish squad for the forthcoming double header.

Shane Long and Derrick Williams will both miss out through injury, and Ciaran Clark has been omitted from the panel.

Richie Towell, Jimmy Dunne, Ryan Manning, Greg Cunningham, and Sean McDermott have also failed to make the final squad.

Republic of Ireland Squad

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Colin Doyle, Caoimhin Kelleher

Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Cyrus Christie, Matt Doherty, Richard Keogh, Shane Duffy, Kevin Long, John Egan, Darragh Lenihan, Lee O’Connor (training only), Enda Stevens

Midfielders: Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Glenn Whelan, Conor Hourihane, Harry Arter, David Meyler, Shaun Williams, Alan Browne, Callum O’Dowda, James McClean

Forwards: Scott Hogan, Sean Maguire, Callum Robinson, Aiden O’Brien, Ronan Curtis, Michael Obafemi

 

 

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