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Turkey shoot the bottom line if U21s to avoid wooden spoon

IRELAND'S U21 team head to Turkey for the final game of the European Championship qualifiers tomorrow missing no less than nine members of the original squad following another batch of withdrawals, writes Aidan Fitzmaurice.

Friday's 1-0 loss away to Switzerland means that the Irish side remain bottom of the Group 2 table with just seven points from nine games, and if Ireland are to avoid the wooden spoon for the second qualifying campaign in a row they have to win in Kocaeli tomorrow and hope that Armenia lose away to Georgia.

Over the weekend, stand-in manager Win Koevermans lost the services of five players, as Alan Judge, Gavin Gunning and Shane O'Connor all picked up injuries in the defeat by the Swiss while bookings for senior internationals Eddie Nolan and Anthony Stokes means they are suspended for the final game of the group in which Ireland managed just one win -- last month's 5-0 defeat of Estonia.

So home-based trio Paddy Madden (Bohemians), Seamus Conneely and Karl Sheppard (both Galway United) have been drafted in, Madden and Conneely already capped at this level while Sheppard is aiming for his U21 debut.

Aaron Doran, James McCarthy, Stephen Gleeson, Cillian Sheridan and Owen Garvan had already cried off from the original squad.