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Monday 5 December 2016

Browne targets senior side as U21 spell ends

Alan Browne. Pic: Sportsfile
Alan Browne. Pic: Sportsfile

Ireland U21 star Alan Browne has set himself a target of progress to the senior squad now that his time as an underage player is over.

The Preston midfielder lined out for Noel King's U21s in their defeat at home to Serbia last week, but as he's overage for the next U21 campaign, Browne has to end his time at that level.

"I've enjoyed every minute of my time with the U21s and made the most of it. Hopefully I can push on now and aim for the first team," Browne told the Lancashire Evening Post, the Cork native disappointed that the qualifying campaign for the 2017 U21 finals ended in defeat.

"It is always an honour to play for my country. With it being my last game, it was a big occasion for me. We tried our best to leave on a high but unfortunately we couldn't just get the result we wanted."

Stalwarts from the last U21 campaign like Browne, Tommie Hoban and Darragh Lenihan are now overage for the U21s and won't be around for the next qualifying campaign, but others like Jack Byrne (on loan to Blackburn from Manchester City), Mide Shodipo (QPR) and Anderlecht keeper Liam Bossin are all eligible for the next group.

Boss King is aware of Ireland's struggles to find a striker at all levels but he hopes to discover a forward capable of making progress beyond U21 level.

"You don't want to put pressure on any young player by saying 'that's the player who is going to solve Ireland's problems', goal-scoring is a worry for every manager at all levels," King says.

"But I'd be optimistic that we'd uncover one or two as we go along."

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