Kenny wants to see his U21s progress
Ireland U21 team boss Stephen Kenny has set his players the challenge of proving they are good enough to play on the big stage.
The Republic's U21s today open their campaign in the invitational Toulon tournament, taking on China in the French resort (2.30pm), Ireland's first time to compete in Toulon since 2002. Kenny is aware of the investment made by China recently, such as hiring Guus Hiddink, but wants his young side to try and compete.
"We have picked the best players that we think are coming through the age group," says Kenny.
"We want to elevate their status to U21 level as quickly as possible. We want them to excel at that level and give them the opportunity to make the next step, the big step, to the senior team, which is really what it's about."
Ireland play China, Mexico and Bahrain in the group stage.
"It's always important to try and win your first game and we will try and do that today," added Kenny.
Caoimhín Kelleher was due to link up with the squad in France last night after Champions League duty with Liverpool.