Republic of Ireland soccer boss Martin O’Neill has revealed that he intends to make full use of the ‘Granny rule’ in order to widen the talent pool he has to choose from.
O’Neill is concerned that there are not enough young Irish soccer players emerging. With all-time top goal scorer Robbie Keane close to retirement, Ireland need to introduce quality players fast.
O’Neill has accepted that that may mean making full use of the ‘Granny rule’. The Granny rule allows players to play for a country even if they weren’t born there or have never lived there as long as any one of their parents or grandparents had that nationality.
Ireland have made good use of this rule in the past and some of their top players were not born in Ireland. Former captains Mick McCarthy and Andy Townsend were born and raised in England while midfielder Ray Houghton was actually a Scot.
They helped Ireland reach the Italia ’90 and USA ’94 World Cups and achieve one of the country’s most famous victories, a 1-0 win over Italy. Many other players that day were born in England or Scotland.
There haven’t been the same number of foreign born players in the Ireland squad since the turn of the century. However, Damian Duff has already hung up his international boots and is soon to be followed by Keane, Shay Given, Richard Dunne and John O’Shea, O’Neill worries the Irish youngsters do not yet have the talent to follow them.
He said: “It might be interesting to see what sort of squad we have in a year’s time but at this minute I can’t transfer the players.”
He is looking at English born players such as David McGoldrick, Patrick Bamford, Curtis Davies, Connor Wickham, Nathan Redmond, Callum McManaman and Mark Noble.
Redmond, McManaman and Noble have looked at home at Premier League level and would be a welcome injection of quality to the Ireland team. Bamford and Wickham are among the most promising youngsters playing in England right now.
They would be a coup for O’Neill and could be stars of the future for Ireland.