Mick McCarthy has told the Irish Independent that he’s actively pursuing Patrick Bamford with regards to a possible Eire call up, which ramps up the pressure on the striker to come to a decision.
Bamford played for the Republic of Ireland at Under 18 level, but later switched to his native England up to Under 21. He last appeared for them five years ago and now he faces a dilemma over his future.
It’s a simple decision to make. Does he hold out for an England call up, or does he throw caution to the wind and get on the phone to McCarthy, guaranteeing a place in the Eire set up?
Whilst it might be a straight out choice, it’s bound to be playing on Bamford’s mind, if he’s not made his decision already. As a player born in England, he’ll have harboured hopes of pulling on the Three Lions all of his life. At some point as a child, we all did.
He’ll have grown up watching Wayne Rooney on the international stage, experiencing the build-up to a major tournament and even as recently as last summer, seen the adulation that comes with a couple of tournament wins. International football is all about the Euros and the World Cup, all about those big tournaments.
Every player wants to represent their country at that level, they all want to be immortalised in a Panini sticker album for all eternity. That’s got to be one of the goals every professional has.
At 20-years-old, Bamford could have hoped to taste that with England, but he’s 25 now and playing in the second tier. The England set-up is a long way from his grasp, but across the sea there’s a huge chance waiting for him.
If it is his dream to play in those tournaments, he could grasp it with Mick McCarthy. The former Ipswich defender knows all about swapping allegiances, he’s Barnsley-born but played in Euro 88 and Italia 90 for Eire. He got to taste those big games and experience the tournament vibe. He knows, more than anyone, what a simple choice can bring.
Patrick Bamford might have seen his England chances slide, but could he now get to Euro 2020 with Eire? If he did, how would he feel about scoring against England? If he could put that out of his mind, how good would it be to face Holland, Germany or Italy in a group game?
How much could he improve as a player against Europe’s best? What benefits could staying away with Eire bring him in terms of coaching and ideas? This isn’t purely about matches and tournaments, it’s also about experience. Being involved in an international set up might be an honour, but it’s also a chance to work with new coaches.
Patrick Bamford is doubtless focused on his Leeds career and getting into the Premier League. Manage that and maybe, just maybe England could come calling.
However, if he’s a second-tier striker next season, his only opportunity to impress on the big stage might come in the emerald green of Ireland.
It’s a big call to make, ditching childhood dreams for practicality and reality.