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U21s given job to shock Swiss

IRELAND's stand-in U21 manager has challenged his young players to go our and prove themselves against Switzerland tonight.

Ireland's miserable qualifying campaign for next year's European Championships winds down over the next few days as the team play the Swiss tonight and then travel to Turkey on Tuesday.

Ireland's aim now is to avoid finishing bottom of the group.

Newly appointed U21 boss Noel King isn't in Lugano for tonight's game as he's in Trinidad with the girls' U17 side for the World Cup, so Wim Koevermans is at the helm tonight.

It's a weakened Irish side, with five withdrawals from the original squad.

Four of the side which started in the impressive win over Estonia last month are out, and players such as James McCarthy and Owen Garvan (injured) and Cillian Sheridan (in the senior squad) are badly missed as rookies such as Robbie Brady, Shane O'Connor and Richie Towell get a chance, while Adam Rooney and Graham Carey return to the squad.

"We're all really looking forward to the game," said Koevermans. "We have had a few withdrawals through injury, which is unfortunate, but that gives some of the young players a chance.


"We will probably have a few players making their debuts at this level, so it will be a good experience for them ahead of the next campaign.

"Switzerland and Turkey are the two top seeds in the group. They both have a chance to qualify from the group, so they will both be desperate to win the matches against us. They are two good teams and our players are really looking forward to the challenge."

Ireland have faced the Swiss four times in the past eight years, with three defeats and one draw.