Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy welcomed teenager Troy Parrott to ‘men’s football’ after seeing the striker hold his own on his senior international debut.
The 17-year-old Tottenham frontman was thrown in at the deep end in the 3-1 friendly victory over New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium.
And although he did not emerge with the goal he craved, he furthered his football education after a run-in with experienced defender Winston Reid.
McCarthy said: “Oh, he can handle himself at this level, I don’t doubt that. He was tracking back and he tackled their centre-half and he got all upset [Reid].
“I know he’s been out, so you don’t want him to get injured – but well done, that’s what it’s about.
“Welcome to men’s football, because then he was getting a little bit bullied by him. But he stood up to it, and he’s done fine.”
Parrott was thrilled to make his senior debut after excelling at underage level and while he knows he still has much to learn, he has embarked upon a steep learning curve.
The teenager said: “Of course I have been satisfied with the strides I’ve been making as I’ve made my debut for Tottenham and I’ve come in here and made my debut for Ireland.
“But I’m just going to try to keep on doing what I can do, working hard and trying to learn from people, and hopefully I can go far in the game.”
Parrott has inevitably been compared to Robbie Keane, who was handed his debut by McCarthy at the same age back in 1998 and went on to score a record 68 goals in 146 appearances for Ireland.
However, McCarthy is refusing to put any pressure on a man who has only three appearances to his name for the under-21s.
The Ireland boss said: “Troy did okay. He didn’t set the world on fire, but what he did I was really pleased with.
“He ran the channels, had a couple of chances… I know everyone is desperate for him to score, but the keeper thwarted him. I was pleased, overall.”
If Parrott did not cap his big night with a goal, three of his team-mates did, and they chose the perfect moment to do so ahead of Monday night’s crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark.
Blackburn defender Derrick Williams cancelled out All Whites debutant Callum McCowatt’s opener with a header on the stroke of half-time, and Sean Maguire and substitute Callum Robinson struck after the break, all three registering for their country for the first time.
McCarthy said: “Yes, I’m satisfied. I thought we played some decent football in the first half, but I could see their goal coming.
“It was a good goal by them, but I wasn’t happy with the way we let them through us, so that was a bit disappointing.
“But it was great that the lads got their first goals for the country, the debutants all did well in the game, so I’m really pleased.”