Brady focused on Italian job

Aidan Fitzmaurice

IRELAND U21 star Robbie Brady hopes that Noel King's side are keeping their top form in reserve for next week's Euro qualifier against Italy following a 2-1 home defeat by Denmark in a friendly last night.

Manchester United man Brady kept up his superb scoring rate -- five goals in seven U21 appearances, just one goal short of the all-time record -- when he fired Ireland in front eight minutes into the second half in front of a disappointing crowd at Tallaght Stadium.

The Danes had some familiar names in their camp as their U21s are managed by Morten Wieghorst and they had Andreas Laudrup -- son of Michael -- in the team, but it was their captain, Mads Albaek, who inspired their comeback, scoring from a free kick (55 minutes) and then a penalty after Brady took down Mikkel Kirkesov in the box (73 minutes) to gift the Danes their win.

Ireland now prepare to face Italy in Sligo on Monday, a game the Irish side need to win if they're to have any chance of making it to the U21 finals in Israel next year. "Hopefully we have got the bad result out of the way now and we can go on to play Italy and do well," Brady told the Herald after the loss to the Danes.

"It wasn't a great game or a great performance last night but the main thing was to get 90 minutes under our belts to get ready for the qualifier against Italy next week.

"It's so long since we played together, seven months since our last U21 game, we need to get together as a group.

"If we can get a good result against Italy next week we have a chance of qualifying for the Euros.

"There's such a great buzz in Ireland now because of the senior team going to the Euros, I can't wait for the football to start. Hopefully we can follow in their footsteps and try to qualify for the finals.

"I have spoken to a few people who are going to Poland for the finals and it would be a great trip. You never know, I might pop over there," added Brady.

The Dubliner, who had an impressive spell on loan from Manchester United to Hull City last term, had been spoken about as a possible dark horse to make the senior squad, though for now he has to make do with U21 duty.

"I didn't have my heart set on making the senior squad for the Euros," he said. "It would have been an unbelievable thing to do, to make that squad, but I didn't expect it, I just keep playing my own game to see how far I'd get.

"I missed out on the senior squad this time but if I keep making progress maybe I can make it for the next campaign," added Brady, who plans to report back for pre-season training with United and hopes to make the squad for their pre-season tour of the Far East.

While his club future is secure, that's not the case for some of his U21 team-mates as players like Rhys Murphy and Aidan White are in line for summer moves but last night's game was not one where Irish players stood out.