PATRICK Bamford has put his international career on hold to focus on firing Leeds back into the Premier League, says international boss Mick McCarthy.
The English-born striker had been in talks with Mick McCarthy about switching his allegiances to Ireland in time to play for them this summer.
But the 25-year-old has put talks on ice while he focuses on Marcelo Bielsa’s side’s promotion push.
Bamford played once at U18 level for Ireland, but then went on to play for England U18, U19, and U21 but has not made a senior appearance, meaning he is still eligible to represent a country for which he qualifies through his maternal grandparents.
Bamford – a £7m signing from Middlesbrough – has scored four goals in his last five games and helped the Whites to second in the Championship and is someone McCarthy admires greatly.
Bamford’s delay comes as a blow to McCarthy who is desperately searching for a goalscorer and has turned to Luton striker James Collins for his squad for the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia.
I am disappointed because I think he is a really good striker and he will score goals for us.Mick McCarthy
After a text message exchange earlier this month McCarthy had hoped to get Bamford’s registration transferred in time for him to be available to play for Ireland in June against Denmark and Gibraltar – but it will now be September at the earliest before he pulls on a green shirt.
Speaking from the Aviva stadium as the FAI announced SportPesa as their new official betting partner, McCarthy said: “I haven’t met up with him and I won’t be. He is concentrating on playing in the league and seeing how that goes. So I won’t be meeting up with him, not yet, maybe in the summer.
“I am disappointed because I think he is a really good striker and he will score goals for us.
“But I do understand it, he has been out for a long time and they [Leeds] look like they are going to get promoted and he doesn’t want anything else going on in his head.”
The news comes in the week that Declan Rice – who made three friendly appearances for Ireland last year – was named in Gareth Southgate’s England squad after pledging his international future to the Three Lions.
Despite cooling his immediate desire to switch to Ireland, McCarthy does not believe Bamford is hedging his bets to see if England come calling should Leeds win promotion.
He added: “He is not reconsidering, he’s in, he’s scoring, he’s playing and he just wants to focus on that. I told him he couldn’t play until June even if he set it all up now.
“I didn’t get a sense that he was hedging his bets at all. He wants to play and he wants to play for Leeds, let him crack on and see what happens.”
SportPesa are the official betting partner of The Football Association of Ireland. For more info visit: www.sportpesa.org