The Irish can still claim second spot in UEFA U21 Championship Qualifying Round Group 2 if they beat the Serbs home and away in their final two fixtures and Serbia beat Slovenia in their final group game.
Serbia’s squad that drew with Italy last Friday included nine of the squad that beat Brazil 2-1 in the FIFA U20 World Championships Final in New Zealand last year so the Irish know they face a tough challenge tomorrow.
“It was a very comprehensive performance against Slovenia. We had a lot of our top players available. When we have everybody in the group we always feel we have a chance,” said King.
“Unfortunately we’ve lost Alan Browne through suspension and Eoghan O’Connell picked up a knock after he did quite well on his competitive debut. That’s disappointing but other players get a chance now.
“Sean Kavanagh and Darragh Lenihan come back from their own suspensions and Callum O’Dowda comes back into us after good experience with the first team. He’d be a key part of our group.
“Serbia are World U20 Champions at this age group and have a super group of players in the 1994 and 1995-born age bracket. They represent a huge challenge. Serbian football is on the up. They are at the bar that you judge yourself against these days – Serbia, Germany and that quality of nations.
“We’ll try and win the game as we always do. We have our strategy and will prepare for the game in the right manner and see where that takes us.”
King is pleased that some of the new additions to the squad for these fixtures have settled in well with Manchester United goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara linking up with Ireland for the first time.
“The new faces such as Olamide Shodipo and Courtney Duffus showed up well on Friday. Both have added substantial things to the group,” said King.
“Mide got a full 90 minutes and contributed both attacking and defending. Courtney is at the back end of his pre-season and still needs some more games but what we saw from him was very good.
“We’ve also brought in Kieran O’Hara, who is a young goalkeeper from Manchester United. He’s eligible for the next campaign as well and we’ll look forward to see how he develops.
“Kevin Toner and Jake Mulraney have also settled in well. Jake is making a big impression about the place, he’s a talented young fella playing first team in Scotland. He has something different about him –a turn of pace, an eye for goal and he’s also eligible for the next three years at this level.
“How that talent is developed and nurtured only time will tell but at the moment this is an exciting group and the match of this level against a side like Serbia will only benefit the whole group.”
Sean Hoare has been resting with a bit of a virus and is being monitored by Dr John Chute but King hopes the St Patrick’s Athletic defender can play some part in training tonight in preparation for the game.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U21 SQUAD:
Daniel Rogers (Aberdeen - on loan at Falkirk)
Kieran O'Hara (Manchester United)
Thomas Hoban (Watford - on loan at Blackburn)
Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers)
Kevin Toner (Aston Villa - on loan at Walsall)
Sean Hoare (St Patrick's Athletic)
Glen Rea (Luton Town)
Sean Kavanagh (Fulham)
Joshua Cullen (West Ham - on loan at Bradford)
Connor Dimaio (Chesterfield)
Kevin O’Connor (Cork City)
Jack Byrne (Man City - on loan at Blackburn)
Harry Charsley (Everton)
Sean Maguire (Cork City)
Courtney Duffus (Everton)
Olamide Shodipo (QPR)
Jake Mulraney (Inverness Caley Thistle)
Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City)
UEFA U21 Championships Qualifying Round Group 2
Tuesday, September 6
Serbia v Republic of Ireland, Karadjordje, Novi Sad (5.00pm Irish)