NEW IRELAND U21 boss Jim Crawford believes Jayson Molumby should be regarded as an example for other youngsters to follow.
The 20-year-old Waterford native has impressed both for Ireland U21s and Brighton U23s in recent times.
And this season, Molumby has progressed even further. A loan move to Millwall has proved fruitful, with the midfielder making 33 appearances in all competitions for the Championship side, who were eighth and chasing promotion to the Premier League before the coronavirus crisis brought a halt to proceedings.
Molumby regularly captained the Irish U21s during Stephen Kenny’s tenure, and has been tipped to make the jump to the senior side by many pundits. Crawford told The42 that Molumby will remain as skipper of the 21s during his tenure if available.
“You can’t have players that should be playing football that are comfortable playing U23s,” Crawford explains. “They’ve got to be pushing themselves and always asking coaches questions. ‘Should I go out on loan?’ And challenge themselves to the best possible standard. European football is a step up for players who are playing U23s. That’s why I’ve always said ‘try to get into your first team or get playing regularly on loan’.
“You only look at the likes of Jayson Molumby. He’s gone from Brighton [on loan] to Millwall, and he’s really developing into a fine player. That to me is exactly what you’re looking for.
“I’ve a hell of a lot of time for Jayson. He’s great to have around the place. He’s a winner who can play football as well.
“I’ve been talking to Jayson on the phone and he’s in good spirits.
“He’s one of them that you never know what will happen down the line. He really is having an excellent season with Millwall.”
Prior to accepting the main job, Crawford was part of Stephen Kenny’s backroom staff with the 21s. And before then, he had extensive experience working in Irish underage football, including as manager of the U18s for three years, in addition to working as assistant to Paul Doolin with the 19s.
“The bulk of players I’ve worked with [at different age levels]. We went to Spain a few years ago. We beat Belgium. We beat Holland. And we gave England a good game. Quite a few of the players in the 21s were involved in that. Adam Idah, Jason Knight [among others].
“This current group really is a talented bunch, and above all, they’re hard-working players. They want to learn. They want the attention to detail that’s required to play at this level. They’re asking questions. It’s great to see. And it makes me proud.
“Quite a few of them as well I’ve worked with in the Emerging Talent programme. Groups at U14s and U15s. The likes of Conor Masterson, Dara O’Shea. And it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve broken into the first team [at club level], because of their commitment and desire to become the best possible footballers they can be.”