The Republic of Ireland have the Premier League’s next goalscoring sensation on their hands in Evan Ferguson.
The Brighton striker has cemented his reputation as one of football’s most highly-rated wonderkids with a stunning start to the season.
Ferguson is already the shining light for his countryGetty
The 18-year-old became only the fourth teenager in the Premier League era to score a top-flight hat-trick after bagging a treble in a 3-1 win over Newcastle.
Ferguson was born in Bettystown, near Dublin but qualifies for the England national team due to his mother.
And fears have been sparked that he could follow both Declan Rice and Jack Grealish in playing for Ireland before changing allegiances.
Ferguson’s switch would hurt even more as the only one of the trio to have been born in Ireland and he’s already earned six senior caps.
But only three of those have been in competitive fixtures, with some fans believing that he would need one more to lock down his international future.
That fourth competitive game has been put on hold though after he was forced to withdraw from Stephen Kenny’s squad for the qualifiers against France and the Netherlands this weekend due to injury.
So has that opened the door for England to try and swoop in and make Ferguson the long-term successor to captain Harry Kane?
Rice made three appearances in friendlies for Ireland
He is now the lynch-pin of Gareth Southgate’s EnglandGetty
Can Evan Ferguson still play for England?
Unfortunately for the Three Lions and very fortunately for the Republic, Ferguson can NOT switch international allegiances.
The confusion surrounding Ferguson comes from a misunderstanding of FIFA’s relaxed rules on changing nationality.
The forward has indeed only played in three competitive fixtures during his six international outings.
And being that he was under the 21-year-old threshold when he made those appearances false hope was given to England fans.
But the small print from the FIFA Commentary on the Rules Governing Eligibility to Play for Representative Teams released in January 2021 negates any distinction between friendly and competitive matches.
Clause IV of Article 9, Section C states that a change of association would only be granted if a player was ‘fielded in no more than three matches in an official competition or non-official competition’ i.e. friendlies.
Under these guidelines, Ferguson was already locked to Ireland after their 1-0 defeat at home to France in March.
That was his fourth cap for his country and he has since gone on to represent the Boys in Green a further two times.
Young Irish hotshot Ferguson looks a born goalscorerGetty
Even if the rulebook allowed him to do so, Ferguson has already publicly shot down any suggestion that he would ever ditch Ireland.
“No,” the Brighton striker swiftly told Sky Sports in May 2023.
“Obviously, my mam’s English so that’s where it probably comes from.
“I’ve seen a few saying ‘Oh, will he? Will he?’ I can tell you now, it’s a no. I wouldn’t be allowed back.”
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