Newcastle United have done ‘good business’ to sign ‘in demand’ goalkeeper Reece Byrne from Bohemians.
That is the view of Ireland Under-21 boss Jim Crawford, who is well placed to comment on the academy’s first signing this summer. Not only has Crawford been following Byrne’s progress for some time – the former midfielder made the same journey from Dublin to Newcastle in 1995.
While only a handful of Irish youngsters have represented Newcastle’s first team since Crawford, the Magpies are taking note of burgeoning talent across the water at a time when the Boys in Green underage teams are showing impressive results. In fact, Byrne is the latest Ireland international under-19 to join the club following the arrival of Galway United’s Alex Murphy last summer – and it’s no coincidence.
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Irish prospects may now have to wait until they are 18 to move to England due to Brexit, but thanks to the Common Travel Area scheme they will not need a work permit like a player of the same age from further afield. That worked in Byrne’s favour, as it would be even more complicated to recruit a goalkeeper of the same age from the mainland.
So what can Newcastle expect? Well, Byrne really is one for the future, he only made his professional debut for Bohemians last October, but Crawford has described the ‘giant’ as someone with ‘high potential’.
“I’ve known Reece for a long time,” Crawford told ChronicleLive. “I saw him come up through St Joseph’s Boys here in Dublin when he played schoolboy football.
“He’s been a much sought after goalkeeper so it’s been a good thing Newcastle have done to get him on board. Like all young players he has a lot of work to do in different areas of his game but I’m sure there is a competent coaching staff at Newcastle who will identify his strengths and areas for improvement that will help him reach his ceiling.”