The Republic of Ireland Under-21s will go into Tuesday’s Euro 2023 qualifier in Montenegro with their strongest squad available following a relaxation of coronavirus travel rules.
Manager Jim Crawford faced losing up to seven of his UK and Germany-based players for the game in Podgorica as Montenegro is on the red list of both nations and they would have had to quarantine on their return.
But the Football Association of Ireland confirmed on Saturday that a breakthrough had been made after lengthy consultations with the clubs, the Football Association and UEFA following the UK Government’s decision to ease restrictions from Monday.
An FAI statement said: “The Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad has departed for Podgorica with a squad of 29 players following consultations with clubs, the English FA and UEFA after travel restrictions to Montenegro were relaxed by the British Government.
“Montenegro is not on Ireland’s red list and players from England, Wales and Germany have now been cleared by their clubs to travel for Tuesday night’s European qualifier under the new UK guidelines.”
Crawford, who saw his side beat Luxembourg 2-0 in Dublin on Friday evening to preserve their unbeaten start to the Group F campaign, admitted his relief at the decision having had to draw up an alternative squad comprising entirely home-based players in case the rules remained in place.
He said: “We’re relieved to have some clarity to what has been a unique situation in our preparations for Montenegro.
"The players showed incredible professionalism to remain focused on the Luxembourg game and that showed with the 2-0 win last night.
“We have travelled now with all the players available to us and this is a great opportunity for everyone involved to impress. We had looked at hosting a home-based game in the coming months and now we get to see, first hand, how these players can thrive in preparation for a competitive European qualifier.
“I’d like to thank the co-operation and support of the League of Ireland clubs who have been excellent with us in the last week or so. I’d also like to extend my gratitude to the UK and German clubs who have understood our situation and to the English FA for their continued assistance.”
Republic of Ireland Under-21 Squad
Goalkeepers: Brian Maher (Bray Wanderers), Luke McNicholas (Cliftonville, on loan from Sligo Rovers), David Odumosu (Drogheda United)
Defenders: Joel Bagan (Cardiff City), Ronan Boyce (Derry City), Josh Honohan (Cork City), Andy Lyons (Bohemians), Mark McGuinness (Cardiff City), Niall Morahan (Sligo Rovers), Jake O’Brien (Crystal Palace), Lee O’Connor (Tranmere Rovers, on loan from Celtic), Andrew Quinn (Bray Wanderers, on loan from Dundalk), Luke Turner (Cliftonville, on loan from Aberdeen)
Midfielders: Conor Coventry (Peterborough United, on loan from West Ham United), Dawson Devoy (Bohemians), Alex Gilbert (Swindon Town, on loan from Brentford), Gavin Kilkenny (Bournemouth), Conor Noss (Borussia Möchengladbach), Killian Phillips (Drogheda United), Ross Tierney (Bohemians)
Forwards: Evan Ferguson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Will Ferry (Crawley Town, on loan from Southampton), Brandon Kavanagh (Bray Wanderers), Joshua ‘JJ’ Kayode (Rotherham United), Johnny Kenny (Sligo Rovers), Liam Kerrigan (UCD), Andrew Moran (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ollie O’Neill (Fulham), Colm Whelan (UCD)
UEFA Under-21 European Championship Qualifiers – Group F
Tuesday, October 12 – Montenegro U21 v Republic of Ireland U21, Gradski Stadion, Podgorica, KO 4.30pm (Irish Time)