Michael O'Connor: Linfield striker included in Republic Under-21 squad

O'Connor's Linfield are leading the Irish Premiership
O'Connor's Linfield are leading the Irish Premiership

Linfield's Dundalk-born striker Michael O'Connor has been included in the latest Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad - despite previously declaring for Northern Ireland.

He was named in new manager Stephen Kenny's first panel, which will take part in a training camp in February.

O'Connor has played for the Republic at Under-18 and Under-19 level, but said in December that he wanted to be considered for Northern Ireland.

His grandmother was born in Belfast.

The 20-year-old former Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk forward joined the Blues last summer and scored two goals in Tuesday night's 2-0 win against Newry City.

Crusaders' January signing Ronan Hale is also included in the Republic squad, with the rest of the panel made up of players from the League of Ireland.

Kenny, who took over as Under-21 boss in December, also announced on Thursday that former Ireland international Keith Andrews has become his assistant coach alongside Jim Crawford, who leaves his role as Ireland Under-18 head coach.

The squad will play a friendly against the Ireland Amateur team at Whitehall Stadium on 6 February, while it was also revealed that the team will take part in the 2019 Toulon Tournament in June.

Republic of Ireland U-21 training squad

Goalkeepers: Conor Kearns (UCD), Ross Treacy (Dundalk)

Defenders: Andy Lyons (Bohemians), Darragh Leahy (Bohemians), Conor McCarthy (Cork City), Trevor Clarke (Shamrock Rovers), Liam Scales (UCD), John Mahon (Sligo Rovers)

Midfielders: Dan Mandriou (Bohemians), Aaron Bolger (Shamrock Rovers), JJ Lunney (Waterford), Jamie Lennon (St. Patrick's Athletic), Brandon Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers), Robbie McCourt (Bohemians)

Forwards: Ronan Hale (Crusaders), Neil Farrugia (UCD), Michael O'Connor (Linfield), Will Fitzgerald (Limerick), Zach Elbouzedi (Waterford), Karl O'Sullivan (Limerick)

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