Luca Connell omission from the Republic of Ireland under-21 squad this summer appears to be due to illness.
The Celtic midfielder has yet to make a competitive senior appearance for the Hoops since joining. Despite that, however, he’s still rated extremely highly at international level. This led to him receiving his first-ever senior call-up back in May before picking up a knock (Irish Examiner).
However, he was surprisingly not named in Stephen Kenny’s 22-man squad to face Armenia and Sweden with the under-21s this week.
And, according to the 42, that’s due to the fact he’s currently sidelined through illness. Connell has only featured for Celtic on one occasion since joining from Bolton this summer. The Irishman played against Rennes in a pre-season friendly at Celtic Park.
Unfortunately, however, the competition in midfield has meant that we’ve yet to see more of him. He still remains a bit of an unknown quantity to the vast majority of the Celtic support. It remains to see how long it stays that way too.
His international colleagues, meanwhile, managed to wrap up a 1-0 success over Armenia on Friday night. They’ll now take on a trickier looking task away to Sweden on Tuesday.
No game-time forthcoming for Connell
It’s unfortunate for Connell that he isn’t involved in these European qualification matches. It would’ve given him some of the game-time he surely needs.
So far this season, Connell has been down with the Celtic development squad. He’s been featuring in competitions such as the Glasgow Cup and Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup this term.
For Celtic supporters, however, it doesn’t look as though the first-team call will come anytime soon. Scott Brown and Callum McGregor continue to dominate the midfield ranks. Outside of the duo, Olivier Ntcham is by far the outstanding candidate when it comes to first reserve.
Then again, trying to second-guess Neil Lennon this season hasn’t been easy. The Celtic manager is capable of surprising levels of rotation when you don’t expect it. This was something Lenny was extremely good at during his first spell too.
So it would hardly be surprising if Connell was suddenly thrust into a domestic clash at some point this winter in particular. But, at the moment, it’s difficult to see exactly when that will happen.
First and foremost, he needs to overcome whatever illness he’s been plagued with. And it also clears up just why he’s been missing for the Irish youth ranks over the last few days.