Belfast Telegraph

Martin Keown's son declares for Republic of Ireland

By Aidan Fitzmaurice

The latest recruit to the Irish cause says his family will be proud, even though his father is an ex-England international.

Reading defender Niall Keown has answered Ireland's call and was today named in the Republic of Ireland's U21 squad for a Euro qualifier at home to Andorra this month. Niall's dad, Martin, won 43 senior caps for England but could have played for Ireland as his mother was from Galway while his dad was from Fermanagh, and Jack Charlton did try to bring Keown on board in the 1990s.

But Niall, 19, has opted to play for the Republic of Ireland and is in line for his U21 debut in Waterford. "I'm really looking forward to linking up with the U21s. There's a strong Reading contingent in the Irish U21s and it'll be good to hook up with them," Niall told The Herald.

"Dad used to get a lot of stick from his family for playing for England, I was aware of all that so it wasn't really a big decision for me to represent Ireland.

"I have lots of family in Galway, we went there for holidays a lot and they are very proud that I have decided to represent Ireland. There was no big discussion with dad about this, it was just the natural thing for me to do and I know I'll have lots of support there from family if I am picked to play in the game in Waterford.

"I was named as backup for an England U18 squad but once Noel King and the FAI got in touch, my decision was made," added Keown, who could make his Reading debut against Brighton tonight.

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