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Under 19s face must-win Slovakia test

STEVEN SMITH has called on the Republic of Ireland Under 19s to leave nothing behind in today's must-win Elite Phase qualifier against Slovakia.

The Leicester City centre-back insists that his team must forget about Thursday's 2-2 draw with Switzerland because nothing other than a win today will keep them in the qualification hunt.

Whoever tops Group 2 will secure a place in the European finals in Lithuania, but Paul Doolin's team cannot afford any more slip-ups with Slovakia up next before facing Serbia on Tuesday.

"In the first half against Switzerland, we could have battered them. We got two goals and probably thought we were going to cruise to victory, but they showed just how good they were," said Smith. "The fact that Slovakia got beaten in their game gives us a little bit of confidence, but, for us, it's all about winning the next two games. We have to keep pushing on when we get into good positions.

"There were a lot of good things against Switzerland and we can be positive about that. But it's all about beating Slovakia now and staying in it until the final game against Serbia."


While the humidity in Belgrade clearly affected the Irish against the Swiss and Doolin has insisted that he may rotate his line-up, there can be no room for excuses.

According to Smith, who was outstanding alongside Pierce Sweeney in that opening qualifier, their fate is in their own hands and beating Slovakia would propel them back into the mix.

If they can collect the three points at FK Srem Stadium, then Doolin's side will open up the group wide open and take it to the final game against Serbia in a winner-takes-all contest.

But for Smith, there can be no looking past today's assignment, because only a win will keep their European finals dream alive.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (Probable): Lawlor; Baba, Sweeney, Smith, Griffin; Kavanagh, Gallagher; Hayhurst, Sadlier, McEvoy; Byrne.