Republic of Ireland under-21 manager Noel King has named just one non British-based player in his 18-man squad for the upcoming Uefa European Championship qualifier against Germany on September 9 in Sligo's Showgrounds.
Goalkeeper Sean McDermott is the only member of the panel not to play his football across the water but is included after becoming Sandnes Ulf’s first choice goalkeeper in the Norwegian Tippeligaen. The former Arsenal academy ‘keeper moved to Norway last August and has enjoyed a fine breakthrough season between the posts.
However, there is no place for any Airtricity League starlets with Derry’s Barry McNamee, Daryl Horgan of Cork City and St. Patrick’s Athletic midfielder Chris Forrester all overlooked despite featuring during last March’s friendly against Portugal.
The Boys in Green will welcome their German counterparts to the Showgrounds for their second game of the qualifying campaign after overcoming the Faroe Islands 4-1 thanks to goals from Samir Carruthers and Aiden O’Brien as well as a brace from Matt Doherty in the opening round of fixtures.
King has been given a boost ahead of the tie with Horst Hrubesch’s side with the addition of Wolves winger Anthony Forde and Bristol City defender Derrick Williams to the panel after the pair missed the trip to Toftir earlier this month through suspension.
Shane Duffy is another notable inclusion and will add vast experience to a largely untested squad as they aim to qualify for the 2015 Championships in Czech Republic.
The 21-year-old centre-back has endured a frustrating couple of seasons at Everton after having to settle for a place in the reserves but looks increasingly likely to secure a loan move before the transfer window slams shut next Monday.
There will be competition for places with plenty of talent at King’s disposal and the tactician believes his side have an opportunity to overturn the group favourites.
“Germany are obviously the favourites for the group and will expect to top the table but we’ve proven in big games before that we can take on sides like this and do well.
“I’ve looked at the Germans on the DVD and you can see they are very strong. They probably have enough players to field two teams at every age group and be competitive.
“They play the sort of football a lot of people would say is how the game should be played. They’re fit, strong and fast and will represent a challenge for our players but our squad like games like that.”
With all of the squad, except Joe Shaughnessy who is currently on the books at Aberdeen and McDermott, plying their trade in the top three leagues of the Football League, King will be confident his charges can qualify for their first European Championships.
The likes of Sean Murray, Forde, Sean McGinty and Derrick Williams are all enjoying regular first team football and according to King, that should hold the side in good stead.
“Our players like the opportunity to prove ourselves at that level. We proved with our performances against Italy and Holland in the last year that this is the level our players want to be playing at and know they can do well in.”
“The crowd in Sligo has always been very supportive of our side. The U21s like playing there were the atmosphere is brilliant and we’re hoping we’ll have another full house supporting us.”
Republic of Ireland U21 Squad
Aaron McCarey (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Seán McDermott (Sandnes Ulf FC), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Michael Harriman (QPR – on-loan to Gillingham), Frankie Sutherland (QPR), Shane Duffy (Everton), Sean McGinty (Sheffield United), Anthony O’Connor (Blackburn Rovers), Connor Smith (Watford), Joe Shaughnessy (Aberdeen), Callum Reilly (Birmingham City), Anthony Forde (Wolverhampton Wanderers FC), Sean Murray (Watford), Samir Carruthers (Aston Villa – on-loan to MK Dons), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Derrick Williams (Bristol City), Charles Dunne (Blackpool – on-loan to Wycombe), Aiden O’Brien (Millwall)