Football | Parrott and O’Connor to start against New Zealand

Troy Parrott and Lee O’Connor will make their senior Republic of Ireland debuts against New Zealand on Thursday.

The teenage duo will both start as part of an experimental Boys in Green lineup for the visit of the Kiwis to the Aviva Stadium.

17-year-old Parrott will start up front, offering fans the most hotly-anticipated debut since the Arctic Monkeys released ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’.

Having only made his U21 Ireland debut in September, Parrott’s rise has been meteoric, with the young striker being heralded as the next Robbie Keane.

“For me, it’s about scoring goals,” he told FAI TV.

“That’s all I want to do, to be honest. It stands out when people look at it and say, ‘he scored another goal’ or ‘he scored and got an assist’.

“If someone can score, then I think it helps to go up the levels quicker and then obviously when I went to the 21s, I scored for them again on my debut, so it was good.”

O’Connor, 19, starts at right back in a back four that also contains Ciaran Clark, Kevin Long and Derrick Williams.

Kieran O’Hara, who made his debut in the 3-1 win over Bulgaria in September, has also been handed his first start for Mick McCarthy’s side.

Robbie Brady also makes a welcome return, with the Dubliner named to start on one side of Parrott up front, with Sean Maguire occupying the other side.

Brady – who will captain Ireland on Thursday – has shown signs of rediscovering his form since his return from injury, registering two assists in five appearances for Burnley in the Premier League.

Shamrock Rovers midfielder Jack Byrne – who was named as the Premier Division Player of the Year last week – will start in midfield alongside Josh Cullen and Alan Browne.

The inclusion of Browne seems to suggest that the Preston midfielder has lost the battle for a starting berth against Denmark to Conor Hourihane.

Aston Villa midfielder Hourihane will likely now start alongside Glenn Whelan and Jeff Hendrick against Denmark on Monday.

Thursday’s friendly will give McCarthy’s fringe players an opportunity to impress ahead of the crucial Euro 2020 qualifying clash with the Danes.