King: Kosovo unknown quantity
Noel King admits he is heading into the unknown as he prepares his Republic of Ireland side for their opening 2019 European Under-21s Championship qualifier against Kosovo.
Ireland host the Kosovans in their first fixture at this level at Tallaght Stadium this afternoon with information on their opponents at a premium.
Head coach King said: "We don't know what we're facing in terms of our opponent, but we will treat them with the highest respect.
"There is a great tradition of football in their country. We have to be intelligent in how we play, how we defend and attack and we will under-estimate nobody.
"It's up to everybody to prepare properly, staff and players. We'll have a positive mindset and will try to win the game."
King's squad has a blend of experience from the last campaign and new faces with Bournemouth striker Joe Quigley, Sheffield Wednesday defender Connor O'Grady, Aston Villa midfielder Ronan Hale and Derry City frontman Ronan Curtis involved for the first time. He said: "The mood is good in the camp. There's that sense of excitement ahead of a new campaign.
"A lot of players who are with us have been here for a while and there are a few new faces too, so it's a matter of trying to gel them together to develop that sense of being a team. The players can't wait to get started."