Sunderland and Ireland U21s defender Jimmy Dunne has reaffirmed his commitment to the Boys in Green amid speculation that he had been considering a call-up to the Northern Irish senior setup.
Dunne was involved in the Irish senior squad for their games against Northern Ireland and Denmark and has represented the U21s on a number of occasions.
In October, it was reported that the 21-year-old was considering an approach from Michael O’Neill’s side following a number of impressive performances with Scottish side Hearts, but Dunne outlined over the weekend that his dream has always been playing for the Republic.
Speaking to LMFM’s Sunday Sport show, Dunne admitted that he can see why some players may change allegiances, but outlined that he is hoping for a first cap with the Boys in Green in the near future.
“I haven’t played for either or but I am a Dundalk lad and my dream has always been to play for the Republic of Ireland and that’s always something I’ve thought of and I’ve never ever considered it to be any other way.
“But as you grow older if you’re not playing international football I can see why players would make the decision to play with someone to get the international experience.
“I’m hoping in the next few years or maybe even sooner to play for the Republic of Ireland.”
Dunne is currently still a Burnley defender and has impressed on loan at the likes of Accrington Stanley and Hearts, before his recent January move to League One high fliers, Sunderland.
The young defender’s situation had been compared to that of Declan Rice’s by Northern Irish manager Michael O’Neill who also admitted in November that he did not expect Dunne to choose his side over the Republic of Ireland.
“Jimmy Dunne made it known that he would be interested in a conversation with me. I had a conversation with Jimmy and if you look at the situation, Jimmy Dunne is no different to Northern Ireland than Declan Rice is to the Republic of Ireland — he’s eligible through grandparents,” said O’Neill.“He is a player who, like any player that has eligibility to play for Northern Ireland, we’ll keep tabs on him.“But I wouldn’t expect Jimmy to phone me and say that he is coming to play for Northern Ireland.”