Tuesday 20 November 2018

U-21s aim to lift the gloom against Euro champions Germany

Next generation: Conor Shaughnessy feels there’s more talent coming through for the senior team. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Next generation: Conor Shaughnessy feels there’s more talent coming through for the senior team. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Irish football could badly do with a good-news story and Conor Shaughnessy is confident that the U-21s can at least hint at a better future to come tonight.

Germany come to Tallaght Stadium leading Noel King's side by three points at the top of the group with three qualifiers remaining.

In the first instance, Ireland require victory to maintain their push for the automatic place at next year's finals but also a display to provide encouragement of better days ahead.

Ronan Curtis was already suspended for this evening's clash with the reigning champions before he got drafted into the senior fray for the friendly against Poland.

It had been anticipated that others would have joined him by now when Martin O'Neill talked about rebuilding his squad after the World Cup play-off defeat but the finest graduate of them all, Declan Rice, has stepped back entirely from international football to tackle his dilemma.

Shaughnessy, the Galway native who made nine appearances for Leeds United in the Championship last season, feels there is more ready-made talent coming on stream for O'Neill to utilise.

The latest generation of hopefuls face their ultimate audition tonight, and the defender is confident they can meet the challenge.

"This match against a top-quality side is the perfect opportunity to showcase the talent is in our U-21 squad," stressed the centre-back.

"I'm certain that there are players coming through that are capable of stepping up to the senior Ireland squad.

"We've seen Ronan Curtis get promoted this week from our squad to the seniors, something that is a dream of mine too."

On the here and now, Shaughnessy insists Ireland won't be daunted by the task of trying to shackle the rampant Germans.

"I think we've got to be confident heading into this game," he asserted.

"Everyone knows what a strong team Germany have but we'll respect rather than fear them.

"This is a position we gladly would have taken at the start of the campaign and I believe we'll be fine against Germany if we do things right."

Irish Independent

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