Towell out to impress for U21s
Richie Towell believes tonight’s Under-21 match against Turkey [kick-off 4pm Irish time] is a chance for younger players to show what they can do at this level.
Towell is one of several players to have been promoted from the Under-19s into the higher age group, and it is this group of players who will hope to form the backbone of the Under-21 squad for the next campaign, which will begin in March 2011.
With the squad having been decimated through injury and suspension – ten players have had to withdraw from the original squad – the younger players are receiving a head start in their Under-21 careers.
Towell played the full 90 minutes against Switzerland last Friday night, occupying a midfield slot along side Conor Clifford and Conor Hourihane. The midfield trio, who are all eligible for the next Under-21 campaign, played at Under-19 level together. Indeed, Towell and Clifford were midfield partners at Crumlin United together prior being snapped-up by Celtic and Chelsea respectively.
“There are a few of us who have come up through the ranks together and we’re now in the Under-21s together,” he said. “Hopefully this is another stepping stone for us. These two games will give us a bit of experience at this level and hopefully in the next campaign we can have a really strong Under-21 team.
“It was my first game for the Under-21s and I was happy with how I played. The manager was delighted with our overall performance so I thought it went very well, aside from the result.
“I haven’t played in midfield for Ireland for a while because I played most of the last campaign at full-back so it was good to get back into centre-midfield because that is my preferred position. You’re more involved in the game in midfield – getting on the ball, getting forward, creating chances, putting in tackles and generally influencing the game more.”
Despite an impressive performance Ireland went down 1-0 to Switzerland. Temporary manager Wim Koevermans believes that Ireland should have had the game wrapped-up in the first half, when they created eight goal scoring opportunities, and Towell agrees with that assessment.
“We absolutely battered them in the first half,” he said. “We created so many chances and I think that if we had taken one or two of them they would have died down a lot. But we didn’t take the chances and as a result they grew in the second half.
“We still played well but maybe we got a little bit tired from having played so well in the first half. I think we were still the better team; they didn’t get many chances but unfortunately they took one of them. Against Turkey we’re going to have to be more clinical in front of goal.”
Having joined Celtic four years ago, Towell is now close to making the breakthrough into the first team. He has been named on the bench this season and is hoping to get a place in the starting XI soon.
“I’ve been on the bench in most of the matches this season, including the Europa League game, and I also played a pre-season friendly against Blackburn Rovers,” he said. “It’s going well for me. I just have to keep impressing Neil Lennon and hopefully he likes what he sees. Coming away with the Under-21s is another stepping stone and it shows that I can play at this level. I’m at Celtic four years so I think it’s time I started to make my breakthrough.
“I want to stay at the club and fight for my position. I’m training with the first team every day and that can only be good for me. Although I’d like to play in the first team, I am still getting reserves matches every week. I’m in the first team squad now so it’s just a matter of trying to push on and get into the team.”