Bolton starlet admits he's unsure of future following links to clubs including Norwich, Spurs and Rangers

PUBLISHED: 13:20 22 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:44 22 May 2019

Bolton starlet Luca Connell, pictured in Republic of Ireland U17 action, has been linked with a move to Norwich City Picture: Tim Goode/PA

Bolton starlet Luca Connell, pictured in Republic of Ireland U17 action, has been linked with a move to Norwich City Picture: Tim Goode/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Bolton starlet Luca Connell is yet to decide on the next move in his blossoming career, after joining up with the Republic of Ireland senior squad amid a host of interest from Premier League clubs, including Norwich City.

The 18-year-old midfielder is out of contract at Bolton this summer and has been linked with Tottenham, Southampton, Wolves, Burnley, Brighton, Rangers and Norwich in recent weeks.

It's understood Connell is looking to play regular first-team football after showing promise during 10 Championship appearances for crisis club Bolton this season, who were relegated.

Asked about his future, he said: "I don't know, I'm leaving that down to my agent. Hopefully he's sorting that out while I'm away, seeing what's about and what he thinks is best for me."

Connell has been drafted into the Republic's week-long training camp in Portugal at the last minute, ahead of Euro 2020 qualifiers with Denmark and Gibraltar, although isn't expected to remain for those games.

Previously the Liverpool-born youngster has played alongside Canaries academy star Adam Idah at youth levels for Ireland, including the U17 European Championship last summer - who has been called up for U21 action at the Toulon Tournament this summer.

He made the breakthrough during the second half of this season at Bolton, making eight starts in a defensive midfield role, getting his first taste of senior action during a difficult time for his club.

It's understood the teen's desire to continue playing first-team football leaves City having to persuade Connell of their plans for his future, amid plans to significantly strengthen the club's U23 squad following promotion to the Premier League, investing in players who are good enough to go out on loan to the Championship or League One.

He continued: "It's been a tough season for the club, the players, the staff, the fans, tough all around. But it's been a good season for me personally.

"I've experience in the Championship and I'm grateful to the gaffer (Phil Parkinson) for giving me the chance."

Connell found out about his Ireland training camp call-up when his father, Andrew, received a call from manager Mick McCarthy at the weekend.

Talking to PA Sport, he continued: "It was only Sunday night the gaffer rang my dad and said he'd be interested, had heard a lot about me, hadn't seen me live yet, but he's looking forward to seeing me, so I can't wait to get on the pitch.

"To be honest, I didn't know what to do. It's one of those ones, I was confused and it didn't really sink in until I was on the plane that I was actually coming over to meet the first-team squad."

Connell, who has played at age group level for Ireland, but is also qualified to represent the country of his birth - there has been speculation that he is being monitored by the England set-up - admitted it was "surreal" to walk into the team hotel to meet McCarthy, assistants Terry Connor and Robbie Keane and the rest of the players.

However, there was one man whose acquaintance he was particularly keen to make.

He said: "It's crazy, it's surreal to be honest, especially Seamus Coleman. Being from Liverpool and supporting Everton and supporting him through everything, it's brilliant for me.

"I spoke to Seamus last night, he welcomed me in. Being the skipper, that's part of his job as well, isn't it? But he's a lovely, lovely fella. I can't thank him enough for welcoming me in."

Former Ipswich boss McCarthy is only intending to include Connell in his training squad for now but said: "He knows he's coming in for the week in Portugal - unless he rips it up, of course and he's top man every day, who knows?"

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