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Sheppard in for U21s after superb run with Rovers

KARL SHEPPARD'S form with Shamrock Rovers has earned the former Everton man a call-up to the Irish U21 squad.

Noel King has announced an 18-man panel for Monday's European Championship qualifier at home to Liechtenstein -- played in Sligo -- and King has included two home-based players. Sligo Rovers man Aaron Greene gets the nod but so does Rovers star Sheppard.

The Dubliner has earned rave reviews for his displays with Rovers this season, and he achieved a personal goal when he scored for the Hoops in their Europa League tie away to PAOK in Greece last month.

King has relied heavily on the panel of players who have performed well in the qualifiers so far, earning wins at home to Hungary and away to Liechtenstein as well as a defeat away to Turkey.

Ireland are in third place in Group 7 of the Euro qualifiers but the side face a bizarre period of inactivity: after Monday's game in Sligo the U21s do not have another competitive game until June when they take on Italy at home.

Meanwhile, Scunthorpe have accepted that they will have to do without Derry-born defender Shane Duffy -- on loan from Everton -- for their FA Cup clash with AFC Wimbledon on Saturday because of the U21 call-up.

"Shane has to report for 10am on Saturday morning, so there is no way he can play for us on Saturday," said manager Alan Knill.

"He's an international player and of course your country comes first."

IRELAND U21 squad

GOALKEEPERS: Ian McLoughlin (MK Dons), Aaron McCarey (Wolves).

DEFENDERS: Lanre Oyebanjo (York C), Shane Duffy (Scunthorpe U), Rob Kiernan (Wigan), Greg Cunningham (Nottm Forest), Mark Connolly (Bolton), Gavin Gunning (Dundee U).

MIDFIELDERS: Richie Towell (Hibs), Aidan White (Leeds), Conor Clifford (Yeovil), Jeff Hendrick (Derby C), Adam Barton (Preston), Robbie Brady (Hull C).

STRIKERS: Aaron Greene (Sligo R), Daniel Kearns (Peterborough U), James Collins (Shrewsbury), Karl Sheppard (Shamrock R).