Thursday 8 December 2016

Miele set for U-21 debut as King shakes things up for Norway test

John Fallon

Published 17/11/2015 | 02:30

Brandon Miele
Brandon Miele

After the deflation of losing their UEFA qualifier in Lithuania, Ireland U-21 boss Noel King will use tonight's friendly against Norway to experiment for the second half of the campaign.

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For the workout at the Waterford RSC (7.45pm), League of Ireland talents Brandon Miele and Kevin O'Connor earn debut call-ups along with Liverpool defender Dan Cleary, who has appeared on the bench during the club's Europa League series.

Miele enjoyed an impressive first season for Shamrock Rovers, following his return from a spell at Newcastle United. The attacker collected the club's Player of the Year award and could add to his collection at next week's PFAI awards should he be voted Young Player of the Year by his peers.

O'Connor, too, made his mark during the campaign just ended, completing the domestic year by figuring for Cork City in the FAI Cup final.

Also expected to feature having missed out on Friday's 3-1 defeat in Vilnius are Ian Lawlor (Manchester City, Kenny McEvoy (Tottenham) and Sam Byrne (Everton).

Ireland will need a string of results in the remainder of their qualifiers, starting in March at home to top seeds Italy, for ambitions of securing a top-two finish in the group to be revived.

"There is a long way to go in the qualification process and we can build on the nine points we picked up in the first five matches," said King.

"I will also be looking to some of the players who didn't start in Friday's game in Vilnius to start this friendly, so there is plenty to play for.

"We have brought in some players who have impressed in the League of Ireland this year along with a few from the 1996 age-group.

"Norway are an excellent side and will provide us with a serious test. These games are an excellent opportunity to assess the level of the new players."

Irish Independent

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