Belfast Telegraph

Brian Kerr: ‘I feel for IFA over exodus of players to Republic’

By Steven Beacom

Former Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr has expressed his sympathy with the Irish FA over the increasing number of players who are deciding to opt for south over north, despite being born, bred and coached in the latter.

New Sunderland signing James McClean is the latest player to defect under FIFA rules, declaring his dream is to play for the Republic after dropping out of the Northern Ireland squad which faces Kerr's Faroes Islands side at Windsor Park tonight.

Kerr stated: “It is a unique situation but not a good one and I sympathise with the IFA and football people in Northern Ireland.

“When you invest money, time and coaching ability into young players only to see them leave and go somewhere else it must be very frustrating and disheartening.

“But those are the rules and the Republic are taking advantage.”

Kerr, who managed underage Republic sides, as well as the senior team, added: “I've been involved in the past with the Republic where I've selected players who qualified for both countries, but we were very fair minded about it.

“I didn't select anyone who I didn't think could make it into the senior team and made them aware of how limited their opportunities would be.

“I would hope this situation would change because it's not good for a lot of reasons. It doesn't sit right with me.

“It will be interesting to see how many of these players play regularly for the Republic in the future.”

Kerr added: “We (the Faroes) have 47,000 people to pick from scattered around 18 islands and I understand how hard it is to get together a group of players with the quality required to compete against the best teams.”

Kerr says there are some bright young players in the Faroes, some of which were on show today at the Oval in the under-21 international against Northern Ireland.

McClean was previously an under-21 player for Northern Ireland.

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