Canice enjoys the international experience
It has been a busy summer already for Oxford United’s international brigade with Callum O’Dowda receiving his first senior cap, Benji Buchel playing his tenth game for Liechtenstein and Max Crocombe away with the senior New Zealand squad.
But there is another young player who has also been away on international duty. 17-year-old defender Canice Carroll returned to Oxford yesterday after playing for the Republic of Ireland under 18 side in Sweden. Canice played the full 90 minutes of a win over Hungary but was forced to sit out a game against Sweden due to a slight calf injury
“That was a little bit frustrating” he told www.oufc.co.uk “but it was another fantastic experience, just being part of the set up, playing against different teams in Europe. It can only help and it teaches you to try and aim as high as possible.
“It’s a squad of 18, with two or three of them playing in the League of Ireland and the rest of us over here. I believe the plan is for the majority of the squad to step up to under 19s with an eye on the Euro finals in Georgia. There are two friendlies in September and then we are in the same group as Germany and Albania to try and qualify.”
Although born locally, Canice qualifies for the Republic of Ireland through his father Liam.
“That’s right, my dad’s family are Irish and I know my family are very proud to see me wearing the green shirt. Last season I was called into the Irish under 17 squad the same week I signed my first pro contract. What a week that was!”
That professional contract came in his first year as a scholar, making Canice eligible for both the youth team and the senior squad next season.
“I’ve been with Oxford since I was 14, although I played up a year for the under 15s” he says. “Turning pro was a big step but the players and the Gaffer have been excellent. He’s told me that I’ll start pre-season training with the first team and see how we go from there. The target has to be to work as hard as possible and stay there if I get a chance but I know I am still young and may have to be patient. “
The defender’s versatility may further improve his chances:
“I have played a lot of football at centre-half but started as a right back at under 15 level and really enjoyed it because it’s the best of both worlds, getting forward when you can but also having to defend.”
Canice has seen the slightly older George Jeacock, Miles Welch-Hayes and Jack Stevens all make the step up to professional contracts this summer and with the likes of Callum O’Dowda and Sam Long ahead of them there is a clear pathway for young players with the U’s
“That’s right” he says “I think all of the young players look at what has happened with Callum and the way the club gives people a chance to progress. That is great for us and you know that if you keep trying hard then you will get opportunities here.
“ For now all I can do is work over the summer to give myself the best chance when we report back.”