Two promising young strikers have been backed to be the future of the Republic of Ireland national team after impressing in recent weeks.
Evan Ferguson has already been widely tipped to make his mark at international level after his exploits for Brighton & Hove Albion over the past year.
The teenager has been the scourge of online bookmakers this season, netting four goals in six appearances for the Premier League club.
Oddsmakers on the best betting sites have reacted accordingly by slashing Ferguson’s odds to be the top scorer in the English top flight this term.
While Ferguson is unlikely to prevent Manchester City’s Erling Braut Haaland from winning the Golden Boot, he could be a decent each-way bet to finish in the top four.
Having delivered a succession of top-class performances for the Seagulls, the young striker has been tipped to be the ‘next big thing’ for Ireland.
Irish fans will understandably be desperate to see Ferguson in action in their next round of 2024 European Championship qualifiers in October, with Stephen Kenny’s side facing a near impossible task to qualify for the tournament.
Only a miracle set of results would send Ireland through, leaving them sweating over snatching an opportunity via the back door route of the Nations League play-offs.
If Ireland are to have any chance of progressing to the tournament or mounting a bid to qualify for the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada, they need to find a reliable partner for Ferguson.
Cobh Ramblers manager Shane Keegan has backed Troy Parrott to emerge as Ferguson’s long-term partner following an eye-catching goal for Excelsior Rotterdam in the Eredivisie during September.
The Tottenham Hotspur forward hit a stunner for his loan club, crowning a superb 3-0 away victory over Heerenveen. Parrott spent last season on Preston North End after previous loan stints at Ipswich Town, MK Dons and Millwall.
While Parrott’s tally of four goals in 20 senior appearances for Ireland highlight that he is not an out-and-out goalscorer, Keegan believes he has the ability to be the perfect foil for Ferguson in the number 10 role.
“Some 10s gravitate completely towards midfield,” Keegan told the Football Family Podcast. “Some gravitate more towards their nine. I think he is a 10 who will gravitate more towards a nine.
“You don’t really want him dropping in and becoming your third midfielder. You look at the goal from the weekend and I think that summed up everything that he’s got.
“He dropped in for the initial out ball, got a little bit lucky with his first lay-off in terms of it nearly going to an opposition player, but he spun and got away very well. He showed himself then for the second ball coming out, which he got fouled – actually, fair play to the referee, he gave a very good advantage on it and then the attack went beyond him, and he ended up following the attack.
“When it was set back to him it’s an absolutely outstanding finish. It is actually Bergkampesque in the way he just bends it. It’s a brilliant finish.
“I don’t think he’s Evan Ferguson. I actually think if he could show a steady stream of form, I think he has the absolute ideal skillset to be an Evan Ferguson strike partner. The two of them would complement each other so, so well.”
Keegan may get his wish to see Ferguson and Parrott link up when Ireland return to action at home to Greece on October 13. They are priced at 11/8 to win that game and keep their faint Euro 2024 qualification hopes alive.