The Imps youth player Billy Brooks appeared twice for Ireland Under 19s this weekend, as they played a double header against their Icelandic counterparts.
Brooks is unusual in the City squad, as he has played for the first team, but doesn’t have a first-team contract; he made his debut against Manchester United Under 21s last season. That’s the opposite of most of the young players who have come through the ranks to earn a professional deal. Brooks turned 18 in February, so surely a decision on his long term future is due very soon.
Doubtless, representing Ireland at Under 19 level gives the Imps something to think about. He played 13 minutes of their 3-0 win on June 1st, coming on for Sam Curtis. The St Pat’s defender had a fine game, making one goal and creating another, but was withdrawn to give our man a run-out.
Brooks was then on the pitch from the start of the second game, both of which were played in Spain. In what is described as ‘searing heat’ (if only we had that here), the Irish were edged out by a single goal. Our man played the whole 90 minutes, making it a good weekend for him and his hopes of a first-team deal.
“Overall it’s been a positive week and we’ve got to see a good number of players and also to get to know the boys who were in with us for the first time,” said Head Coach Tom Mohan. “There’s a good dynamic with this group and me and my staff are pleased with what we’ve seen this week. We were able to try out a couple of systems to see what or what didn’t suit us and from a positive side we created a lot of chances in the games.”
There will be a good indication of Brooks’ progress before the end of the summer, with more training camps planned. “We’ll be meeting up for a number of training camps before September so there’s a lot of football to be played before the qualifiers,” added Mohan.
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There is no doubt Brooks looks different to a year or so ago. The tweet put out by the club shows a more mature looking player, and perhaps that will be to his advantage. Those close to the youths have often described him as a terrier, a tireless worker and fearless in the tackle, but those who have watched the odd game might feel he looked a little small for his age. If this experience and the images coming from Spain are anything to go by, then he might be quickly turning from a boy into a man, and if the same aggression and determination are now accompanied by physicality, he might be another to keep an eye on in the future.