KENNY SHIELS believes Derry City teenager Eoin Toal has the potential to emulate former Manchester United and Northern Ireland defender, Jonny Evans.
The Derry City supremo lavished praise on the talented City centre-half who has impressed in the club’s recent pre-season games against Banbridge Town (0-0) and a N. Ireland Junior Select (7-1).
Current N. Ireland U19 international Toal is preparing for his first full season with the Candy Stripes after joining on a three-year deal from Armagh City last July. And Shiels believes he’s shown the capabilities and maturity to follow in the footsteps of West Brom star, Evans.
And Shiels should know given he worked closely with Evans and current Watford defender, Craig Cathcart during his time coaching with the N. Ireland U17 and U19 set-up.
“He’s one who could go far in the game - definitely,” insisted Shiels. “I’ve worked with Jonny Evans and helped bring him through and I believe Eoin’s right up there with Jonny. He’s definitely close to what Johnny was at that age.
“There’s a couple of centre halves I’ve brought through like Craig Cathcart and Jonny Evans who both went on to play in the Premier League at the highest level and Eoin’s right up there with them.
There’s a couple of centre halves I’ve brought through like Craig Cathcart and Johnny Evans who both went on to play in the Premier League at the highest level he’s right up there with them.Kenny Shiels
“I had them at U17 and U19 level. Eoin has the potential to get as far up the game as Jonny and Craig Cathcart.”
Praise indeed from the City boss and despite Toal’s tender years, Shiels reckons he’s mature enough to take the comparisons with the established internationals in his stride.
“He’s very level-headed and modest,” added Shiels. “He gets over the ground very well. I think he’s got a big future in the game.”
Toal, who played for N. Ireland U19s against Manchester United at the SuperCupNI last summer, will be challenging Darren Cole, Armin Aganovic and Gavin Peers for one of the centre half positions.
“He will be pushing very hard for a place in the team so we have very good competition there,” concluded Shiels.