Tom Cannon makes clear where his loyalties lie after frustrating time at Leicester City

Leicester City striker Tom Cannon
-Credit: (Image: Anna Gowthrope/REX/Shutterstock)

Tom Cannon has played down speculation he could follow Declan Rice and Jack Grealish in defecting to England as he gears up for a Republic of Ireland debut.

The 21-year-old Liverpool-born Leicester City striker has been named in interim boss John O’Shea’s squad for this month’s friendlies against Hungary and Portugal, having previously found himself in England’s sights.

Cannon, who struggled with injuries to make 13 appearances for the Foxes in their Sky Bet Championship title-winning campaign, qualifies through his grandparents and has represented Ireland at under-21 level, but rejected a call from Stephen Kenny during his time in charge of the senior team and another from O’Shea in March.

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The former Everton frontman said: “I would not even say I was in two minds. It was more of a case that when I have been called up to play for Ireland, I have come. Previously when call-ups have come, I have arrived here.

“Under Stephen Kenny, I had tonsillitis, so obviously I could not come into camp. When John O’Shea called me up the last time, I was getting over an injury, so I just wanted to maintain my form at Leicester and see the season out.

“It all came all at once, so I just wanted to take a step back from it.”

Anxiety in Ireland over Cannon’s future is perhaps understandable after England Under-21s boss Lee Carsley contacted his agent.

Rice made three senior appearances for the Republic before switching allegiance to become a key figure in Gareth Southgate’s England team, while Grealish played at under-21 level before opting instead to represent the country of his birth after a lengthy courtship by Martin O’Neill.

Asked if he had always been 100 per cent committed to Ireland, Cannon said: “I have been, yes. It is just that newspapers like to create stories and headlines about England. I have always been committed to Ireland, hence why I am here.”

Asked further if he might have made his intentions clear to avoid confusion, he added: “Maybe so, it depends what way you look at it. England got in touch with my agent and I was keeping out of it, I didn’t want to get involved. I had enough to focus on at club football, I wanted to focus on that.”

As for Cannon's club future, the jury remains out as Leicester City brace for a summer of upheaval amid a change of manager and tackling player spending concerns ahead of a likely Premier League points deduction.

Within hours of City lifting the Championship trophy, the transfer rumours surround Cannon had begun, with both Preston and Blackburn attributed with loan interest in the youngster.

But whether the 21-year-old remains at the King Power or moves on may well not be decided until the very end of the transfer window when it is absolutely clear where the Foxes stand going into a potentially tough campaign and what their new manager believes they will need to compete.

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