Republic of Ireland U19s coach Paul Doolin has praised PNE’s Will Hayhurst for his performances in the side’s European Championship Elite round Group Two fixtures.
The winger started in two of Ireland’s three games, setting up fellow youngster Sam Byrne for their first goal of the competition in a two-all draw against Switzerland.
And Doolin admits he was happy with Hayhurst’s play throughout the Championships, despite the side’s early exit.
“He did really well for us [in the tournament],” Doolin said.
“Particularly in the first game against Switzerland, he made one of the goals, and he played on the right for us.”
Doolin can still remember the first time he watched the 19-year-old live in action – a warm September afternoon last year – and recalls that he was impressed with what he saw.
“I went to see him playing against Yeovil, which was a good game, and he was playing on the left,” he added.
“He did alright in the game, I think he might have made one of the goals, and in the second half he was taken off with around 20 minutes to go.”
However, the 50-year-old revealed that he was well aware of Hayhurst’s exploits before those matches, and had kept tabs on the winger throughout his youth team career – pin pointing the PNE custodian’s involvement in the senior squad at Deepdale as the trigger for his call up.
“He had been involved with our U17s two or three years ago,” Doolin added.
“He broke into your first team and I think anyone that’s playing first team football has to be given a little look.”
Meanwhile, the Dubliner paid tribute to Hayhurst's character, claiming his battle back from two leg breaks at academy level is something to be proud of.
“It’s fantastic, some players don’t make it back from one injury,” he said.
“You can see he’s strong as well, he has a good frame on him and he’s quite stocky and muscular for a 19-year-old.”
“It’s great testament to him and I’m sure the Club helped him along the way and it’s fantastic that he got back playing at a high level.”