Celtic youngsters Connell and Afolabi called up for Ireland U21s

By Euan Davidson

May 25, 2021

Celtic Academy talents Luca Connell and Jonathan Afolabi have both been called up to the Republic of Ireland U21 squad [FAI].

Connell has impressed on loan at Queen’s Park, helping the Spiders secure promotion to League One with some outstanding play. Afolabi, at Dundee, has endured some struggles, albeit at a much higher level. Both players were signed from England. Connell arrived from Bolton in 2019 [Celtic FC], with Afolabi departing Southampton in the same summer [BBC].

Having both shone outside of Celtic, they’ve clearly done enough to encourage Ireland’s selection committee. Connell, for his part, managed 5 assists and 3 goals in just 11 outings [Transfermarkt]. Afolabi, meanwhile, scored 3 for promoted Dundee under James McPake. Both are already Ireland U21 internationals.

Encouragingly, Celtic supporters will be able to tune in. According to the FAI’s squad announcement:

“Fans of the Boys in Green will be able to watch Jim Crawford’s side with the matches against Switzerland and Australia to be shown live on Premier Sports 1 and FreeSports in Ireland and the UK.

“Ireland’s game with Denmark on Saturday, June 5 (which kicks-off at 17:00pm) will be shown in full at a later time of 21:30pm on Premier Sports 1.”

Jonathan Afolabi is one of Celtic’s long-term projects / (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Encouraging signs for Celtic’s Ireland bhoys and youth internationals

Meanwhile, a raft of Celtic youngsters have made international squads worldwide. Leo Hjelde will feature for Norway’s U18s, while Odsonne Edouard looks to add to his tally for France’s U21s. While Edouard is older, rules stipulate that players ages 21 or under when qualifying began can take part in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Tobi Oluwayemi has been invited to a training squad with England’s U19s, while right-back Lee O’Connor has received another senior call-up for Ireland.

Midfielder Ismaila Soro has also been selected for Ivory Coast’s senior side.

With 6 Celtic stars featuring for Scotland at Euro 2020, there’ll be plenty of Hoops-adjacent excitement this summer. Fine, international football might not be to everyone’s liking. However, if Celtic players are getting called up, it can only be a good thing.

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