West Ham midfielder Conor Coventry was a notable absence as the U21 team lost to Cheltenham Town on Tuesday night. This is because the youngster is on international duty.
Coventry has been called up to represent the Republic of Ireland’s U21 side. His fine form for the academy side has earned him another call-up to represent his country at U21 level.
The 19-year-old, who has played twice for the West Ham first-team, regularly features alongside Jayson Molumby in the Irish midfield. But his next task will be a telling test. The Republic of Ireland U21s host Italy U21s in Dublin.
It’s a qualifying match for the U21 European Championship in 2021. After three games, the Republic of Ireland are top of their group with three wins. But Italy will be looking to catch them up (they have only played once) and Iceland are also unbeaten.
Conor Coventry vs. Sandro Tonali
Coventry will be hoping to get all three points on Thursday evening but there will be an interesting personal battle too. Coventry’s clash with Brescia star Sandro Tonali will be an indicator of his ability.
Manuel Pellegrini should watch this midfield tussle attentively. Tonali has been compared to Andrea Pirlo and the 19-year-old playmaker has recently been linked with a £45m move to Manchester United (as per The Daily Star). Man United reportedly see Tonali as a Declan Rice alternative in midfield.
Coventry’s role in the Republic of Ireland side is similar to Rice’s. The London-born midfielder sits deep, makes tackles and keeps things tidy. He will be tasked with keeping Tonali quiet.
There are other danger men in this Italian side, such as Wolves striker Patrick Cutrone and Everton’s Moise Kean. But Coventry’s personal battle with Tonali will give Pellegrini some clues about his first-team readiness.