Irish manager Mick McCarthy singled out two young Irish prospects for praise following the first weekend of the Football League season.
McCarthy and his scouting team were among the action in the Football League over the weekend with a number of players impressing the Irish boss, including the uncapped pairing of Nathan Collins and Daniel Crowley.
Collins, who is still just 18-years of age, started for Stoke City in their defeat to QPR on Saturday and was involved for the Potters during the closing stages of last season also.
Speaking in his scouting report on the FAI’s website, McCarthy outlined that the central defender is “making real progress” and that he would be monitoring him in Stoke’s next game against Charlton.
“We’ll also monitor Nathan [Collins] for Stoke at Charlton Athletic on Saturday. We know all about Nathan – we wanted to sign him for Ipswich Town when he trained with us at Carton House a couple of summers ago – and we had him in our thoughts for the training camp in Portugal at the end of last season.
“Nathan took his first-team chance with Stoke at the end of last season and he is building on that now. He’s a big centre-back who is comfortable on the ball and he is making real progress. That’s great to see.”
Another who impressed McCarthy was Collins’ namesake James, who grabbed a late equaliser for Luton Town in their opener against Middlesbrough on Friday night.
Irish assistant manager Robbie Keane was in the dugout for Boro and saw the 28-year old’s ability first hand with McCarthy outlining both Keane and Terry Connor were impressed by Collins on his Championship debut.
“I’ve spoken with Robbie Keane since the game on Friday night and he was impressed with James [Collins],” McCarthy said
“Terry Connor [assistant coach] was there as well and noted that James was lively throughout what was a big game for Luton on their return to the Championship.
“James could easily have had the winner only for a very good save from Darren Randolph. We brought James in for the Gibraltar and Georgia games in March and we’ll see how he does now against Cardiff City this Saturday.
McCarthy’s comments bode well for the Collins’ (not related) respective inclusions in the squad for the upcoming games against Switzerland and Bulgaria in September.
A player who is yet to be involved in an Irish squad but also impressed on his Championship debut was Birmingham’s Daniel Crowley.
The 22-year old has previously outlined his desire to play for Ireland and despite McCarthy not being overly impressed by Crowley when he went to see him in Holland, the Irish boss outlined that assistant Connor was very encouraged by what he saw from the attacking midfielder in their win over Brentford.
“Danny [Crowley] was watched by Terry Connor at Brentford on Saturday and Terry told me he was encouraged by what he saw. The game proved again that Danny has that forward thinking mentality, he can see a pass and he can execute it.
“He played as the left-sided offensive midfielder in a 4-5-1 formation and hopefully I’ll get to see him play tonight, depending on what team Birmingham pick for the game. It’s a good start for him in the Championship but there’s a long season ahead for everyone in that League as I well know!”