Belfast Telegraph

Barton’s Republic call is latest snub for Northern Ireland

By Mark McIntosh

Adam Barton appears to have turned his back on Northern Ireland, four months after making his senior debut at Windsor Park.

The Preston North End midfielder played in the friendly against Morocco last November, but has since failed to commit his long-term future and was yesterday named in the Republic of Ireland’s under-21 squad for the first time.

Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington refused to put pressure on the 20-year old to make a decision with the Liverpool and Everton target believed to be keeping his options open, hoping for an international career with the country of his birth, England and he wasn’t included in the Northern Ireland panel for last month’s Carling Nations Cup meeting with Scotland.

Now Blackburn-born Barton has been named in Noel King’s Republic of Ireland under-21 squad for a game in Portugal, but will be able to keep his options open.

Like his senior Northern Ireland bow, the match in Agueda next week is a friendly, but the signs are ominous for Worthington.

Worthington refused to get drawn into the Barton call-up, but has been vehement with his views in the past, insisting that he only wants players who are fully committed to Northern Ireland in the set-up.

Barton is joined in the Republic squad by another player who walked away Northern Ireland, Shane Duffy.

Londonderry-born Duffy was capped at under-16, 17, 19 and 21 levels, by Northern Ireland, but stunned his coaches when he declared for the Republic — the country of his father’s birth — last year.

Although Barton’s situation differs from Duffy’s, the powers-that-be at Windsor Avenue are understood to be growing tired of losing out on promising talent.

A Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling last year declared that the Football Association of Ireland were free to pick all players born in Northern Ireland.

Since Manchester United’s Darron Gibson and Marc Wilson of Stoke City switched allegiance, Duffy, Daniel Kearns and Paul George have also jumped ship.

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