Ireland under-21 boss expresses Luca Connell Celtic concerns

By David Walton

March 25, 2021

Republic of Ireland under-21 manager Jim Crawford has outlined his Luca Connell concerns after his development stalled at Celtic.

Connell has recently confirmed a move to League Two side Queen’s Park for the rest of the season. It comes after he was playing English Championship football for Bolton only two years ago.

Since moving to Celtic in the summer of 2019, Connell hasn’t played a minute of senior action. This has led to Celtic fans outlining their concerns over the player’s overall development, especially given the lack of any form of football with the development squad in recent months.

However, things are looking up for Luca once again. He’s been called up to the Republic of Ireland under-21 squad and produced a man-of-the-match display against Stranraer at the weekend. And Ireland under-21 boss Crawford believes that’s exactly what he needs to be doing as he highlighted his Celtic concerns.

As quoted by the Irish Times, Crawford said: “It is a fair thing to say (Connell’s career has taken a bump). I know Luca from my time as under-18 manager and he’s a player with really good potential. He was on the crest of wave playing first-team games at Bolton, rightly attracting a lot of interest.

Carl Starfelt declares his love for Celtic, as Ange bites back at tiring media narrative

“He went to Celtic and had a couple of injuries. They weren’t playing too many games at under-21 level, instead arranging in-house matches. At his age, it’s vital to be playing competitive games, whether that’s under-23s with your club in the UK or first-team games out on loan.

“It’s huge because you need to be challenged. He made his debut for Queen’s Park on Saturday and this international on Friday will get another few minutes under his belt to help for the rest of the season. I think we’ve a lot more to see from Luca.”

Ireland starlet Luca Connell would never have signed for Celtic if knew what was coming

Back when Connell was with Bolton, he wouldn’t have been pitched the career path he’s been on. It’s more likely he was promised a route to first-team minutes at Celtic if he impressed. And that’s the confusing thing about all of this, because he certainly has impressed.

Connell has only ever had the chance to show what he’s got in pre-season friendlies. He looked extremely handy in the pre-season clash against Hibs at Celtic Park. He even bagged an assist for a Leigh Griffiths goal in what was a big moment for him.

But Neil Lennon subsequently refused to give him any more opportunities. John Kennedy has hardly shown any faith in him either as he hasn’t been a part of any of the matchday squads under his tenure.

Celtic youngster Luca Connell / (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Connell has shown he can compete against teams in the Scottish Premiership. He showed that the moment he started bossing teams with Bolton in the Championship. That he’s playing two years down the line for a club in Scotland’s fourth tier just doesn’t sit right.

It’s brilliant to see that Crawford has confirmed he’ll get more minutes on Friday. Ireland face off against Wales under-21s in a friendly contest this week. This comes after they failed to qualify for the under-21 Euros being held over the next week. But even so, facing off against the Welsh will be a spicy encounter for Connell to get stuck into.

It would hardly surprise you if he impressed, got a man-of-the-match award, or even scored. But even less surprising would be the fact that, even if that did happen, he still wouldn’t be given his Celtic opportunity anytime soon.

In other news, the SPFL have announced a key date only four weeks after Dominic McKay’s arrival.