King: Baltic loss is a reality check for us
Noel King admits that everyone in the Ireland U21 camp - including the boss himself - is under scrutiny after a poor defeat to Lithuania last week in the European Championship qualifiers.
A perfect start to the qualifying campaign for Poland 2017 - three straight wins - has run aground with back to back defeats, the most recent coming last week in Vilnius, Lithuania getting revenge for a 3-0 loss in Ireland with that 3-1 home win.
"The Lithuania defeat was very disappointing and we all have to look at ourselves, I have to look at myself," King told The Herald ahead of a friendly against Norway in Waterford tonighty.
"We can't be too cut up about a loss but at the same time I need to know the reasons for what happened, our next qualifier is at home to Italy in March and we will need to do a lot better there to get a result.
"The first thing I need to look at is myself, the preparation for the game and the build-up, could I have done anything better?
"Was the training ok, was the focus of the group right? Maybe there are things we could have done differently to get us another result, I don't know those answers yet but I need to look at all of that,"added King.
"The defeat was a horrible thing to happen but at least if there is something to come from it, let's learn from it and do better in the rest of the campaign."
King has a new-look squad for tonight's friendly in Waterford with League of Ireland stars like Brandon Miele (Shamrock Rovers), Lee Desmond and Sean Hoare (both St Pats), Sean Maguire (Dundalk) and Kevin O'Connor (Cork City) all likely to get some game time, while English-based prospects Dan Cleary and Noe Baba could make their U21 debuts.
"The door is always open," says King."
"We have had some of those players with us before but I am looking forward to working with the likes of Brandon and Kevin O'Connor, they both had good seasons in the league.
"We're always looking to add to the squad and I would hope to have some new faces in with us for the next qualifier next year, but tonight is a chance for these boys to make an impression and get their feet in the door."
Ireland U21 v Norway