Williams out for crunch U-19 tie as appeal fails
IRELAND'S U-19 team will be without regular defender Derrick Williams for today's UEFA qualification showdown against Russia after the Aston Villa trainee had an appeal against his suspension rejected.
Paul Doolin's side must win this afternoon (2.0) or better the result of mini-group hosts Bulgaria in their tie against Bosnia and Herzegovina to progress into the elite phase.
Although Ireland's destiny is within their control, the loss of Williams is a blow.
Further bad news arrived with confirmation that Watford striker Connor Smith misses out with a hamstring strain. Both Williams and Smith were part of last season's U-19 squad that reached the European Championship semi-finals.
Carrying a booking from Thursday's 4-1 victory over Bulgaria, Williams got another yellow card during the 2-0 loss to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday.
The FAI yesterday failed in their appeal to have the second booking rescinded.
"It was ridiculous for the referee to book Derrick on Saturday," Doolin said. "All our team said their player fell to the ground following some jostling.
"We asked them to review the video footage but they weren't prepared to reverse the decision.
"You always want to have your best players available but I probably would have changed the team anyway to freshen it up. The two games in three days at U-19 level is unfair on players, in my opinion."
Doolin admitted he'll be getting regular updates from the other group game being played simultaneously.
"If Bulgaria are ahead, it changes the way we play. We might have to go crazy in attack at that point," he said.
"Bosnia and Herzegovina are already qualified. They may relax but, then again, they could want to finish with three wins from three matches."
Meanwhile, the Ireland's U-17 women's team opened their UEFA qualifying campaign by defeating Romania 3-2 in Macedonia.
Captain Claire Shine, Katie McCabe (penalty) and Gemma McGuinness scored Ireland's goals in the first of their three qualifiers in the mini-group.
Ireland U-19 (probable) -- McDermott (Arsenal); Morrissey (Bohemians), Byrne (Notts Forest), McHugh (Dundalk), Garmston (West Brom); G Smith (Southend United), Carruthers (Aston Villa), O'Sullivan (Blackburn Rovers); Murray (Watford), Burke (Aston Villa), Forde (Wolves).