Republic in move for Northern Ireland's Shane Ferguson
The Republic of Ireland last night confirmed that they want to make Shane Ferguson the next Northern Ireland-born player to switch allegiance to the south.
Ferguson, who hails from Londonderry, has already played at senior level for the country of his birth, coming on as a substitute in a 3-0 defeat to Italy in June 2009.
But that game was not a competitive international — and it means that the 19-year-old Newcastle United midfielder can still declare for the Republic.
Yesterday Don Givens, who heads up the Republic's scouting network, admitted that the FAI had been in contact with Ferguson but would not be drawn on how far down the line negotiations were. The move, predicted by the Belfast Telegraph last month, is sure to rile the Irish FA, who are still reeling from the recent about-turn by Adam Barton.
The Preston midfielder played in a friendly game for Nigel Worthington’s men against Morocco last November, but has since thrown his lot in with the Republic of Ireland and has turned out for their under-21 team.
Two years ago FIFA decreed that under the Good Friday Agreement if a player eligible for Northern Ireland has an Irish passport he can play for the Republic.
The FAI have taken full advantage of that ruling with Darron Gibson, Shane Duffy, Marc Wilson, Daniel Kearns and Paul George making the move. Now Ferguson, who turns 20 in June, looks likely to be the latest to switch sides.