Setback for U-17 hopes as McAuley pulls out
Ireland's preparations for the U-17 Euro finals in Croatia this week have been dealt a blow after their star player, Liverpool's Glen McAuley, made himself unavailable.
The striker was the notable absentee from the 18-player squad named last night, with manager Colin O'Brien stating he'd withdrawn for his "own personal reasons".
McAuley (right) was expected to lead the line in Thursday's group opener against Serbia after scoring the winner in the Elite Stage qualification victory over Slovakia in March. Instead, he'll remain at Liverpool, where he is an integral part of their U-18 squad, which will soon be under the control of Steven Gerrard.
It is understood that difficulties developed in the relationship between McAuley and O'Brien following that Elite Stage trip to Cyprus, and the manager tried in vain to resolve the stand-off by visiting him at his club.
Sources insist the current issues will not affect his availability for international duty in future.
Former Cork City player O'Brien has included 10 home-based players in his panel, including Aaron Bolger, who has already featured in the top-flight for Shamrock Rovers.
After Thursday's outing, Ireland meet Bosnia-Herzegovina on Sunday before concluding the group against top seeds Germany on Wednesday week. The top two progress to the quarter-finals. SQUAD IN FACTFILE