Tuesday 23 January 2018

Mohan's men look for net gains in do-or-die clash

Levingston: 'We simply have to pick ourselves up and it’s on to meet England'
Levingston: 'We simply have to pick ourselves up and it’s on to meet England'

Paul Buttner

There are several positive permutations that could see Tom Mohan's Republic of Ireland through to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Under-17 Championships in Bulgaria.

But the one definite is that Ireland have to score against England in Stara Zagora this evening - something they've failed to do in their opening two games.

It's a do-or-die scenario for Ireland's youngest representative team at the Beroe Stadium as they simply must win or they are out. A draw is sufficient to put England through.

A two-goal victory (or more) over the current Group D leaders would qualify Ireland automatically.

A one-goal win, coupled with a winner from the other game between Holland and Italy in Bourgas, would also see Ireland through.

However, if that game ends in a draw, a three-way tie would see Ireland eliminated on goal difference, if they've only beaten England by the narrowest of margins.

Wolves' midfielder Conor Levingston is convinced Ireland have the measure of the English.

"Obviously, it was disappointing to lose to Italy," said Levingston of last Sunday's 2-0 defeat which sees Ireland propping up the group.

"Everyone was down afterwards. But when we heard on the bus on the way back that we were still in with a good chance if we beat England, then everyone got a lift from that. We're back in it.

"We simply have to pick ourselves up and it's on to meet England."

Levingston has relished every minute he's played of this tournament to date, helping anchor Ireland's midfield, in starting both games against Holland and Italy.

"It's been brilliant. A brilliant experience," said the 17-year-old from Gorey. "Hopefully, now we can get out of the group and go further in the competition."

Mohan is without winger Trevor Clarke whose tournament ended against Italy due to an injury to his right foot. Otherwise, he has a full squad to choose from.

"Regardless of what we have to do, everybody is going to be up for playing England," said the Ireland boss. "It's the last game in the group stage and we know what we've got to do.

"The boys have bounced back well from the Italy defeat and there is a good buzz back in the camp.

"They performed well on Sunday. It was just the few errors we made, and not being clinical ourselves.

"I can't be hard on them. All you can ask of them is to go out and perform and work hard and show a bit of character. They did all those things.

"We just needed to be more clinical with our opportunities."

Ireland U-17s v England U17s, live, TG4/Eurosport 2, 5.00

Irish Independent

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