The FAI should do everything in their power to coax Patrick Bamford into committing his international future to Ireland, writes Richard Barrett.
Patrick Bamford and manager Aitor Karanka will undoubtedly be given the freedom of Middlesbrough if the Teesiders continue their recent form. While Karanka continues to earn the plaudits for his Riverside revolution, it is Bamford whose form has skyrocketed ‘Boro to the upper echelons of England’s second tier.
21-year-old Bamford, a loanee from Chelsea, has hit six goals in his last seven games, including one against Derby that saw his side occupy top spot in the Championship for the afternoon last Saturday. Bamford is due to return to his parent club on January 1st but don’t be surprised to see Karanka do his utmost to hold onto the young star.
Bamford signed for Chelsea in early 2012 for a paltry £1.5 million. Signing a five-year deal from Nottingham Forest, the then eighteen-year-old was loaned to MK Dons the following November. Bamford flourished at his new club, with his strong work ethic epitomised by three debut assists. The spell at Milton Keynes would see the youngster notch 14 goals in 23 appearances, a decent return.
Bamford needed a fresh challenge and one that would help him further develop his career, so the decision was made to loan him to a Championship club. Up stepped Derby, the team he scored against at the weekend. Bamford’s determination and focus on his game was clear for all to see in the 2-0 victory. Unlike most modern strikers, Bamford didn’t hold back when scoring against his former club, celebrating the strike as if it were his first.
One can surmise that Bamford is focused on one thing; goals. He doesn’t care who he scores against. It looks like his decision to reject a scholarship to Harvard as a sixteen-year-old is starting to pay off.
Bamford is developing at a rate of knots, not unlike fellow Chelsea loanees Ryan Bertrand (Southampton) and Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Monchengladbach).
So what’s next for the young striker? An Ireland call-up? An England call-up? Sadly, this is where the plot thickens.
Bamford was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1993. As with a number of English-born talents, the infamous Granny Rule meant that he was eligible to represent the Republic internationally. A call up to the Under 18s saw the promising striker line out for the Boys In Green, to the joy of the FAI.
Unfortunately, as Bamford’s talents developed, his love for the green jersey waned and the Chelsea man declared his allegiances to England. Interestingly, Bamford’s change of heart came just four weeks after making his move to Chelsea.
Despite attempts from the Irish camp to convince Bamford to line out for Ireland, he has gone on to represent the Three Lions at Under 19 and Under 21 level.
With Robbie Keane’s international career deep into stoppage time, there’s a gap in the Irish firepower that the likes of Shane Long and newly capped David McGoldrick sadly will not fill.
Bamford currently finds himself behind fellow hopefuls Saido Berahino, Harry Kane and Danny Ings in the England pecking order. Is it time for Martin O’Neill and co. to step up their pursuit of the 21-year-old? This writer firmly believes so.
Patrick Bamford, grab your granny and that green jersey is yours.
Richard Barrett, Pundit Arena.