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Kerr an unlikely ally for IFA

Former Ireland manager Brian Kerr sympathises with Northern Ireland's continued loss of young talent to his old side and admits players switching allegiance "doesn't sit right" with him.

As someone who spent several years coaching Ireland's youth sides and who now manages the Faroe Islands, a national side with even thinner resources than Northern Ireland, he is uneasy with incidents like James McClean's recent switch to play for Ireland after turning out for Northern Ireland's under-21s.

"It's not a good situation. It's a unique situation and a strange one," he said. "I hope it will change, because it's not good for a lot of reasons. It doesn't seem right and it doesn't sit right with me."

He added: "I sympathise with the IFA because when you invest so much time, energy, money and coaching in players, to see them leave at 21 and 22 must be quite disheartening.

"My sympathy comes from a values (standpoint). Northern Ireland have a limited number of players to pick from and they are losing some to a country who, I think, has plenty of players to pick from.

"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's feelings do not only go out to the IFA, though. He is also concerned young players who decide to commit to Ireland could be signing up for a limited or non-existent international career.

The likes of Dan Devine, Paul George, Daniel Kearns and Adam Barton are among those who have made the switch and may struggle to break into Giovanni Trapattoni's senior squad.

"It's okay picking players at 17, 19, 21 but it's harder to get into the senior team unless you have special ability," he said. "How many of these players are going to play regularly for the Republic? It will be an interesting statistic down the line. It will be interesting to look back and ask how many actually played regularly."


From Belfast Telegraph