Belfast Telegraph

Republic of Ireland duo ready to make Northern Ireland switch, confirms Michael O'Neill

Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill
Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill
Potential NI recruit: Sean Scannell

By Graham Luney

Michael O'Neill has confirmed he's hoping to add two former Republic of Ireland Under-21s to his Northern Ireland squad.

Sean Scannell and Niall Keown have both represented the Republic but are now willing to transfer allegiance and Northern Ireland boss O'Neill is keen to bring them on board.

Huddersfield Town winger Scannell (27), who had a loan spell at Burton last season, has submitted his paperwork to Fifa and could feature in O'Neill's Uefa Nations League plans.

Partick Thistle defender Keown, the 23-year-old son of former Arsenal and England defender Martin, is also interested in transferring his allegiance.

Scannell's father is from Armagh, while Keown's grandparents are from Fermanagh and Sligo.

O'Neill, who has been critical of the Football Association of Ireland's pursuit of players in Northern Ireland, said: "Sean has submitted all the paperwork. He is a player who will come into the equation for us come September. Someone like Sean coming in would be good. It would be pleasing to get him on board.

"Niall played for the south a couple of times at Under-21 level but he has not been selected for a squad since.

"He is a player I spoke to his father Martin about. Niall's decision was if he wanted to come into consideration for us, and he opted to do so. The process now goes through a paperwork exercise before we can select him."

O’Neill is also attempting to recruit midfielder Sean Goss, who was on loan at Rangers from QPR.

German-born Goss (22) qualifies for Northern Ireland through the grandparent rule and O’Neill said: “We spoke to him over a year ago and the ball is in Sean’s court.

“It doesn’t change from our perspective.”

O’Neill added: “It’s a way of strengthening the pool of players and trying to get as many players as we can to give us the opportunity to compete at the level we’re competing at.”

Northern Ireland will face Panama — who will be in England’s World Cup group — on May 30 before meeting Costa Rica in San Jose on June 3.

Meanwhile, Glenavon have confirmed that their player-coach Kris Lindsay will not be leaving to join the Linfield backroom team following manager David Healy’s decision to end Alfie Wylie’s spell at the club.

And Cliftonville defender Tomas Cosgrove has joined Championship side Larne.

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