Republic of Ireland under-21 manager Noel King is hoping his side can continue their impressive form with a good performance against Portugal in Monday's friendly international at Oriel Park.
Having put in good displays against Italy and the Netherlands recently, King believes his side can repeat the feat against Portugal. “I was delighted with how we played against the Dutch last time out," King told reporters at Sunday's press conference. "It was a good performance against a top level opponent and the Portugal game will be a similar test. We will have a look at some of the players that didn’t start the last game as it is very important we have a look at everybody at this level."
King has made just one addition to his squad, bringing in Aston Villa striker Graham Burke. "It’s good to be able to add Graham Burke to the squad as he’s another attacking option," King said. "He has played first team football with Aston Villa this season and has been in very good form in the Next Gen series."
St Patrick's Athletic midfielder Chris Forrester is the only League of Ireland player in the squad, but believes there is not much difference between playing in the Airtricity League and against international opponents. “It was a fantastic feeling to make my debut against Holland last month especially as it was in front of my family and friends,” said Forrester.
“The second thing is that it will obviously be good for my career to play at this level. I want to play at the highest level I can and proving myself with the U21 team can only be good for that. I don’t believe there is much difference between the Premier Division of the Airtricity League and U21 level. There are good players in both but it is a different style of play and I have to prove myself at that level.
“People say to me that they think it takes me a while to settle into a group and they’re probably right. I’m getting to know the squad in the U21s a lot better now and I feel that I can start to show what I can do.
He continued: "For the group we are all determined to get out of our group and qualify for the UEFA Championships and ultimately the Olympic Games in Brazil 2016 so we’ve an awful lot to play for.”
The Republic of Ireland under-21s host Portugal at Oriel Park on Monday, 25th March at 19.30.