As we know English football plays host to an array of talent from all over the world.
It’s now becoming more and more likely to see a side line-up with several different internationals.
Whether it’s England, Spain, France, Germany or even Gabon – the Premier League has some talent.
But to get to this level, most play in their countries’ or a country they’re eligible for youth sides.
Focusing on Europe, specifically a country that has had a recent revamp – Ireland, I look at five of their current under-21 players and how they’re getting on this season.
Olamide Shodipo | 21 | Winger | QPR |
Born in Dublin, Olamide Shodipo has come through the youth ranks of Queens Park Rangers. The 21-year-Old moved to London at a young age and has played for the Rs since 2012.
He has represented his country of birth at both U-19 and U-21 level, scoring once for the latter.
A winger by trade, Shodipo has made 14 appearances in all competitions for the London club and is yet to score.
However, he is yet to feature in a competitive game this season and has just recently come back from an injury.
Once fully fit and available we may see Shodipo feature in the Rs remaining games this season.
Corey Whelan | 21 | Right-Back or Centre-Back | Liverpool |
Versatile defender, Corey Whelan joined Liverpool’s youth academy in 2007.
Though born in Chester, he qualifies to represent Ireland through his father and grandfather. So far he has represented them at U-17 and U-21 level.
Captain of the Reds’ U-23s, Whelan spent the beginning of this season on loan at Crewe Alexandra – the club he joined Liverpool from. The 21-year-old made 18 appearances in all competitions for Crewe, scoring once.
He most recently joined Liverpool’s senior squad on a warm-rather training camp and so far has made five appearances in Premier League 2.
Could we see a potential breakthrough to the club’s senior side? Or will we see Whelan look for first-team opportunities elsewhere?
Only time will tell.
Ryan Sweeney | 21 | Centre-Back | Mansfield Town |
This season has seen centre-back Ryan Sweeney joined Mansfield Town in January after a successful loan spell at the beginning of the season.
Sweeney has represented Ireland at U19 and U21 level.
Mansfield is the defender’s third permanent club. He has made 34 appearances in all competitions for the Stags this season, scoring once.
He seems to be a first-choice player when it comes to playing at Field Mill, something that can only help with his development and potential push for Ireland’s senior team.
Jimmy Dunne | 21 | Centre-Back | Burnley |
Dundalk-born defender, Jimmy Dunne is yet to make an appearance for parent-club Burnley. The 21-year-old has however spent the first half of this season on loan at Hearts, and is spending the second-half on loan at Sunderland.
Whilst in Scotland he made a combined 14 appearances in the SPFL and Scottish League Cup, scoring twice.
Dunne has represented the country of his birth at U21 level.
He has so far made seven appearances so far for the Black Cats, scoring once.
With 13 games to go, I’m sure Dunne will be wanting to end the season on a high – breaking into double appearance figures and maybe promotion.
Connor Ronan | 20 | Centre-Midfielder | Wolves |
The last player on the list is midfielder, Connor Ronan. The 20-year-old has been a member of Wolverhampton Wanderers’ squad since 2016 and has made 13 games in all competitions for them.
Born in Rochdale, Ronan initially chose to represent England at U17 level. He switched his allegiance to Ireland at the same level and hasn’t looked back since – going on to also played for their U19s and U21s.
The midfielder joined Walsall at the beginning of the season until January 1. He made 15 appearances in all competitions for the Saddlers before returning to Wolves.
Deadline day of the January transfer window saw the Irishman join Slovakian side, Dunajská Streda. Ronan has made two Fortuna Liga appearances for the club.
A player who was seen as a promising youngster at 18, now 20, will we see him find his feet at Wolves? Or will we see him venture elsewhere to develop?
So, this is how five current Ireland U21s are getting on so far this season. With all still being young, now could be the time to set their sights on the Ireland’s senior team.