Jim Crawford believes Evan Ferguson can shine for Ireland Under-21s at 16

‘It is exciting - and probably the most important thing for me is he’s a good character’

Republic of Ireland Under-21s boss Jim Crawford has admitted his excitement at the emergence of 16-year-old striker Evan Ferguson.

The Brighton teenager made his debut for Crawford’s side in Friday’s 2-0 European Under-21s Championship qualifier victory in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and showed enough in a brief cameo to suggest he has a bright future ahead of him.

Ferguson will hope for further involvement when Ireland travel to Luxembourg in Group F on Tuesday with his manager extolling his virtues, while at the same time knowing senior boss Stephen Kenny’s willingness to select young players may mean he does not have him at his disposal for too long.

Crawford said: “He’s come in and he hasn’t looked one bit out of place, that’s for sure. He’s been excellent in training. There are even crossing and finishing drills that he’s been excellent with his movement. For somebody so young, he has a good understanding of the game.


“Can he improve? Of course, he can. He’s a fine specimen of a boy. He’s big, he’s strong, he can hold it up, he can run in behind. It is exciting — and probably the most important thing for me is he’s a good character.

“He understands he’s far from the finished product. He’s willing to learn, ask questions and he’s an exceptional character, so we’re delighted to have him here.

“As long as he’s with us, we’ll work hard to help him develop into the player he can become. I’m delighted with him.”

The Republic won in Zenica courtesy of Tyreik Wright's penalty and a second from skipper Conor Coventry, although Bournemouth midfielder Gavin Kilkenny is expecting a different test in Dudelange.

Kilkenny said: “They’ll probably pose different threats, sit in a bit deeper and give us a different test.

“We’ll have to break them down, judging from what they look like in the previous games, and they look dangerous on the counter-attack. Bosnia did as well, but they will be happier to sit in and they look fast on the break, so it’ll be a tough game.”