Sheffield United youngster switches international allegiance
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Blades under-23 winger Stephen Mallon, currently on loan at Derry City, was born in Belfast but elected to play for the Republic after initially turning out for Northern Ireland’s schoolboy side.
However, Mallon has decided to make the change again, saying that he can see a ‘clearer pathway’ to senior international football with Northern Ireland.
“I got a phone call to say I am in the Ireland U21 squad but I’ve actually chosen to go to the north,” Mallon told Derry Journal.
“It’s been going on for a long time. I haven’t just come up with it and made the decision within a week or whatever. It’s been thought out over a year. I’ve had chats with Stephen Kenny (ROI manager), Ian Baraclough (NI manager) and I spoke to Michael O’Neill about it when he was manager. I had a conversation with Stephen Kenny and let him know I’ve made my decision. He said he was disappointed but wished me well.”
He added: “At this moment in time in my career, I just feel Northern Ireland would be better for me.
“I know I still have to be on top of my game and perform every week to get into the Northern Ireland side but I feel there’s a clearer pathway for me there.”
Andy Crosby, who worked alongside Nigel Adkins at Sheffield United, is currently in caretaker charge of Northern Ireland under 21s.