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Sunday 20 October 2019

U21 calls cause fixture dilemma

Republic of Ireland U21 boss Stephen Kenny
Republic of Ireland U21 boss Stephen Kenny

Stephen Kenny has challenged the new arrivals on the stage with Ireland's U21 side to make an impression in the green shirt next month.

But the League of Ireland season is facing disruption as games will be called off to accommodate the seven home-based players who were named by Kenny in his panel for the Toulon tournament.

Barnet midfielder Jack Taylor gets his first Ireland call-up at any level while youth caps Stephen Mallon, Canice Carroll, Jason Knight, Tyreke Wilson and Aaron Connolly are promoted to the U21s for the first time.

Connolly's call-up is a boost for the Galway-born player who was named as the young player of the year in the Premier League's U23 division last season, even though he missed a chunk of the campaign due to injury

"We've never qualified for the European Championships at U21 level so this tournament represents the highest level we'd have played at and we're set to play Mexico, China and Bahrain's Olympic squads, as they prepare to qualify for Tokyo 2020," says Kenny.

"It's also crucially important that we continue to build momentum throughout the year after the win over Luxembourg and looking ahead to the qualifiers in October and November."

The Toulon tournament starts on June 3, Ireland's first time to compete in the invitational event since 2002, and Kenny will use the games to prepare for the next bout of Euro qualifiers.

He has leaned heavily on the domestic league as Darragh Leahy (Bohemians), Conor Kearns, Neil Farrugia and Liam Scales (UCD), Zak Elbouzedi and Aaron Drinan (Waterford), Jamie Lennon (St Patrick's Athletic).

Clubs are entitled to request a postponement if they have players away on U21 duty and the Toulon tournament could play havoc with the league.

Waterford's games against Shamrock Rovers, Cork City and Derry City may have to be arranged, while the UCD v Bohemians game on June 8th will be one of three matches changed if UCD do look for postponements.

And that would create a real problem for both Cork City and Derry City as they could be left with no home games for a six-week period

Goalkeepers: Kelleher (Liverpool), Kearns (UCD).

Defenders: Leahy (Bohemians), Masterson (Liverpool), O'Shea (WBA), Scales (UCD), O'Connor (Manchester U), Wilson (Manchester C), Carroll (Brentford).

Midfielders: Molumby (Brighton), Coventry (West Ham), Knight (Derby), Ronan (Wolves), Farrugia (UCD), Mallon (Sheffield U), Elbouzedi (Waterford), Power (Norwich), Taylor (Barnet), Lennon (St. Pat's).

Forwards: Idah (Norwich), Drinan (Waterford), Connolly (Brighton).

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