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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Dixon is Republic's rising star

By Sam Lyon

Terry Dixon impressed with the Republic of Ireland's Under-17s
Terry Dixon is tipped to be a future Republic of Ireland star
With all the furore that surrounded the call-up of Theo Walcott into Sven-Goran Eriksson's England World Cup squad this week, one other youngster's shock international selection went largely unnoticed.

Arsenal's Walcott, just 17, was the surprise fourth striker included in Eriksson's 23-man squad, despite not yet making an appearance for the Gunners since his 12m January move and making just 13 senior starts in his short career to date.

However, England were not the only international outfit looking to youth, with new Republic of Ireland manager Steve Staunton including Tottenham's 16-year-old striker Terry Dixon, who has even less experience than Walcott.

Dixon has yet to even establish himself in Spurs' academy set-up, and those outside of White Hart Lane could be forgiven for being wholly under-whelmed by his inclusion in Staunton's 29-man training squad.

However, the noises now coming from White Hart Lane and Staunton suggest Dixon's potential impact could be just as big as Walcott's.

Terry Dixon impressed with the Republic of Ireland's Under-17s
Dixon in action for the Republic in a Uefa Under-17 qualifier
The striker, who will join Tottenham's first-year trainee selection from next season, impressed many with a series of starring performances behind the front two in Ireland's Uefa Under-17 European Championship qualifiers.

Strong and skilful, his play has been compared to England's Wayne Rooney, though Tottenham have so far been keen to keep him under wraps.

But that may now change, with many expecting Dixon to step up into Tottenham's reserve, and possibly first-team, set-up as soon as next year.

And Staunton is convinced he could be a big star for Spurs and Ireland in the future, especially under the guidance of club team-mate and international captain and top-goal-scorer Robbie Keane.

"He is a very talented boy with good ability and he is highly thought of at Spurs," the former Liverpool and Coventry defender said.

It is a big step up and I did not expect it, but I will go there and enjoy it
Terry Dixon
"I feel he is a special talent and if he progresses nicely, we will see the benefits in a couple of years.

"It will be good to take him along to the camp and show him what we are about. I said to Sean (McCaffrey) and Don (Givens) that I would like to reward at least one player for doing well and I have decided to bring him."

Dixon himself admits that the chance came as a shock, but that he will be making the most of the opportunity.

He said: "I was called on Monday with the news and I was absolutely over the moon.

"It is a big step up and I did not expect it, but I will go there and enjoy it.

"I met Steve Staunton at the European Championships and he told me well done, but I did not expect this.

"I am sure it will be a great experience - just training with the squad will be unbelievable. It will give me confident going into next season and I will be able to take tips off the likes of Robbie, that will be fantastic."

On the world stage this summer, Walcott could be writing back-page headlines single-handedly with England as Eriksson's men march on the finals in Germany.

But, under the radar with Ireland, Staunton and Tottenham will be hoping Dixon can continue his development, with one eye on making his own impact for club and country in the coming years.



SEE ALSO
Staunton names 29 in Irish squad
08 May 06 |  Internationals


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