CORK City prospect Brian Lenihan will make his Ireland U21 debut in Germany today as boss Noel King casts his eye over the next generation of young Irish talent.
As qualification for the 2015 European Championship finals is now out of the question for Ireland, the final game of the qualifying campaign, away to Germany in September, has no real consequence so U21 team manager is planning for the next campaign, starting with a friendly against Qatar in the German city of Aachen today (6pm Irish time)
Only two players in the 18-man squad have been capped at U21 level before, Mikey Drennan and Kenny McEvoy making their debuts against Montenegro last March, so it’s a clean slate.
King confirmed that prospects like Ian Lawlor and Jack Byrne (both Manchester City) and Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn) will start but defender Brian Lenihan, an ever-present for Cork City so far this season, will also get to play, his cap a reward for Lenihan who missed his club’s league game against Bray Wanderers last night, becoming only the second Cork City player (along with Daryl Horgan) to win an U21 cap in the last eight years.
“Brian has done really well with Cork City, I have a few League of Ireland players on my radar and it’s great to have him in the squad, even though it meant him missing Cork’s match last night,” says King.
“I am happy with the squad overall, the effort has been great and it’s great to work with a new group. I have seen them in matches for their clubs but you can only really judge them when they come in as a group and so far I have been really pleased.
“We have had time to prepare as we came to Germany on Thursday night so we will be ready for the game. Qatar are a strong side and their players are generally a year older than our group so that’s a test but I am happy to see how this new squad of players copes at U21 level,” he added.