Thursday 18 July 2019

Boys in Green facing tough test as key players to miss U-19 Euros

Republic of Ireland manager Tom Mohan. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland manager Tom Mohan. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Ireland will be without a batch of their key players for next month's Euro U-19 finals in Armenia.

Tom Mohan guided the Boys in Green to a first showpiece since the class of Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, Shane Duffy and John Egan managed it in 2011.

The Irish did what Germany, Holland and England were unable to do by securing one of the seven qualifying berths alongside the hosts, by winning all six qualifiers, including victories over Russia and the Dutch.

Mohan's crew open their campaign on July 15, playing Norway before taking on France three days later. They conclude the pool on July 21 against Czech Republic, aiming for a top-of-the-table finish to seal a semi-final place.

However, Ireland won't travel with full strength as the finals fall outside the international window and clubs can refuse to release players.

That the tournament clashes with pre-season schedules also strengthens the hands of club managers.

Centre-back Nathan Collins, who made a Championship breakthrough with Stoke City, is firmly in the plans of manager Nathan Jones and will remain with the first-team.

The same applies to Michael Obafemi, the Southampton striker just recovered from a hamstring injury which ended his Premier League season in March.

Conor Coventry has also confirmed he won't be available, as Manuel Pellegrini wants him on West Ham United's pre-season tour.

Two other U-21 internationals, Aaron Connolly and Lee O'Connor, are also likely to be part of the first-team squads at Brighton and Manchester United respectively. There is also a question mark over the availability of top scorer Adam Idah, who is highly regarded by Norwich City manager Daniel Farke.

Mohan coped without many of the graduates he lost to U-21 boss Stephen Kenny for the March elite qualifiers, but the tests in Armenia will be a step-up in quality.

He will finalise his squad this weekend and assemble them in Enfield from Tuesday in preparation for the finals.

Irish Independent

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