City’s Italian connection has helped Greg Cunningham to the verge of an senior international debut for his country.
The Blues left back will make his debut against England’s World Cup Group C opponents Algeria in Dublin tonight.
Cunningham was given his breakthrough by Roberto Mancini this season with a couple of appearances on the bench topped by a debut in the FA Cup victory at Scunthorpe in January.
A regular member of Mancini’s senior training group and travelling party, the 19-year-old caught the eye enough for Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni to promote him to the ROI senior squad and finally hand him a debut.
According to observers of the Irish squad Cunningham has looked the part in training and his inclination to push forward and a talent for identifying players in good positions ahead of him have appealed to Trapattoni.
The Irish boss has admitted he took soundings from Mancini about the player.
“He (Mancini) has told me that he’s a good player; clever, young and fast, and I have seen that for myself over the last week,” the Italian told the Irish press.
“He is someone who plays well with the ball at his feet and looks to play a pass forward immediately. That is important because when the strikers get the ball quickly, it can give them maybe a yard or second of an advantage and that can make all the difference.”
Cunningham’s City teammate Shay Given is expected to be amongst those at the RDS to witness the youngster’s debut.