Three Ireland under-21 players who have impressed so far this campaign
Written by James French…
Ireland under-21s’ attacking quality provides hope for the not so distant future.
Three wins from three and eleven goals scored. Jim Crawford’s under-21 side have made the ideal start in their quest to be in Slovakia for the European u21 Championships in two years’ time.
This is a new look Irish squad, with just three surviving members (Joe Hodge, Ollie O’Neill and Sean Roughan) from the Ireland u21s squad who lost to Israel in the playoff for the Euros just over a year ago.
Jim Crawford’s squad from that play-off game had some big names in attack, such as Evan Ferguson and Aaron Connolly and this year’s attacking options aren’t bad either.
Here are three Irish u21 attackers who have impressed me the most so far (excluding Andrew Moran who looks set for a senior call-up):
Tony Springett (Norwich City)
London-born Tony Springett has been a constant threat on the wing for Jim Crawfords side so far in the campaign.
With two assists in two starts, Springett shone in particular on Friday against Latvia.
Armstrong Oko-Flex x2 ⚽️⚽️
— Ireland Football ⚽️🇮🇪 (@IrelandFootball) October 13, 2023
His quick feet, pace and directness caused the Latvian u21 side all sorts of problems.
The Norwich winger has shown excellent quality in the final third thus far as well, delivering brilliant cutbacks as seen when he provided the winner for Aidomo Emakhu against Turkey just over a month ago.
Springett has featured off the bench in eight of Norwich’s first eleven games in the Championship, albeit he has been limited to short cameos.
Options are plentiful for Crawford on the right wing, with the talented Rocco Vata providing stiff competition for Springett.
Aidomo Emakhu (Millwall)
Although having not started a game so far in the campaign, Aidomo Emakhu has been extremely impressive in the appearances he has made off the bench for Jim Crawfords side.
Having scored the winner in the 3-2 victory against Turkey, he has been prevented from given a starting berth mainly due to the sheer quality in attacking areas in this u21 squad.
A 95th minute winner from Aidomo Emakhu!!! 🇮🇪⚽🔥
— Kenny's Kids (@KennysKids) September 8, 2023
Similar to Springett, Emkahu has been restricted to brief cameos at club level for Millwall in the Championship – featuring in eight of Millwall’s eleven Championship games so far, scoring once and providing one assist.
Able to operate on the left winger and up front, Emakhu provides versatility to an already interchangeable front line.
His close control dribbling, along with his speed in transition makes him a valuable asset to Crawford and his coaching team.
The Shamrock Rovers academy graduate, along with the resurgent Armstrong Oko-Flex provide quality in depth on the left wing for this talented Irish team.
Sinclair Armstrong (QPR)
In terms of the most minutes at a high level, Sinclair Armstrong is the standout player in this Irish u21 squad.
Having started in nine of QPR’s first eleven Championship games, the Dubliner will be disappointed with goal contributing return, scoring just one goal and providing two assists.
However, the former Shamrock Rovers player has been ever so impressive in his hold up play and his physical freakishness to outmuscle and outpace defenders for club and country this season.
QPR fans warned us about Sinclair Armstrong's lovable chaotic energy and here he is, scoring his first Ireland under-21s goal in one of the weirdest ways possible with a ripped jersey 😂#COYBIG pic.twitter.com/L7I6oifX1B
— Kenny's Kids (@KennysKids) September 12, 2023
Already an Irish senior international, Armstrong is destined for a big season if he can turn chances into goals more frequently at club level.
At u21 level, the 20-year-old has consistently bullied defenders so far this campaign.
If Jim Crawford’s men aim to continue their perfect start, Sinclair Armstrong will play a big role in doing so.