NOTTINGHAM Forest’s Ryan Markey has been handed a huge boost ahead of the start of his domestic season after being called up to the Republic of Ireland U19 squad for a double header friendly international in Serbia this week.
The former De La Salle, Dundalk student who is preparing for his third season at the City Ground, met up with his Irish team-mates at Heathrow airport on Saturday evening after receiving confirmation of the call up last week.
The Irish squad, which contains none of the panel which reached the UEFA Under-19 Championship semi-final in Romania earlier this month, have two games in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, on Tuesday and again on Thursday with both games kicking off at 4.30pm Irish time.
Markey played with the Irish Under-15 squad when he was with Shelbourne prior to his move to the UK. And the 17-year-old from Newtownbalreagan is hoping to show manager Paul Doolin and local coach Tommy Connolly what he can do in a bid to, once again, become an established member of the Irish set-up.
“I’m absolutely over the moon”, said Ryan. “It’s the first time I’ve been back in the international set-up since I joined Forest and it’s great news to receive just ahead of the new season.
“We travel to Belgrade via Munich on Sunday. I’ll definitely play in one of the games. There’s a 20-man squad going over so Paul will be looking to give every player a game over the two matches.
“There are still a few of the lads who got to the semi-finals in Romania who are eligible to play again this year but the main reason for these games is to try and find new players for the upcoming internationals.”
The left winger is also hoping to make an impression on the new first-team manager at Nottingham Forest when domestic duty begins on August 20. After two seasons of heartbreak in the play-offs, Billy Davies has been replaced by Steve McClaren in the Forest hot-seat. And the former England head coach has brought some big names with him to the club.
“There’s been a big change since Billy Davies left and Steve took over”, said Ryan. “Andy Reid has arrived and he has signed players like George Boateng and Jonathan Greening who have loads of Premiership experience.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is also the first-team coach and Rob Kelly is the new assistant. There’s definitely a feeling that Steve is the man to get Forest promoted this year.”
Ryan is part of the club’s Under-18 squad and with the new manager promising to give youth a chance, he is hoping to catch McClaren’s eye.
“Steve speaks regularly to the local papers in the city about giving youth a chance and that is very positive to hear.
“Eoin Jess and Steve Sutton are in charge of the Under-18s again this season but the head of the academy, Nick Marshall, will have a bigger influence this year.
“It will be difficult because the academy squad is made up of 30 players but I made three reserve team appearances last season and hopefully that experience will help me progress again this year”.