Sport Soccer

Friday 19 January 2018

Morling targets finals spot

IRELAND'S U-17s will aim to follow the lead set last week by Paul Doolin's U-19s when they open their UEFA qualifying campaign with a first-phase tie against Liechtenstein in Kazakhstan today (11.0am Irish time).

Ireland manager John Morling believes Irish underage football will be boosted should his side replicate the feat of the U-19s by claiming one of the two berths in the elite phase -- from a group which also features Czech Republic and hosts Kazakhstan.

"We want to reach the European Championship finals," said Morling, who was five minutes away from guiding last season's U-17s to the finals.

"It's great for the FAI if there are underage teams qualifying for tournaments and lifting the profile of the game here. But we have to look at the bigger picture and that is all about getting players through at the top end. We want to create a successful era for this group."

Morling must plan without the injured Eric Grimes (Leeds) and Bradley Lewis (Aston Villa) but, with Manchester United's Sam Byrne leading the attack, the Irish lads should get their campaign off to a winning start.

IRELAND U-17 (probable): S Fagan (Coventry); S Long (Cherry Orchard), K McFadden (Norwich), D O'Reilly (Fulham), S Coyne (Cherry Orchard); K O'Connor (St Pat's Athletic), J Leddy (Ipswich), G O'Neill (Wolves); D McGlade (Middlesbrough), S Byrne (Man United), J Grealish (Aston Villa).

Irish Independent

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