Ireland WNT: Bell selects squad for Italy challenge
Announcing the squad that will travel to Italy for the friendly game, Bell said the tie is exactly the sort of game the players should be involved in as they step up preparations for the European Championship qualifiers which kick-off in September.
The 20-player squad will meet-up on Monday (April 1) for a four-day Irish-based camp ahead of travelling to Italy next Friday.
The match will take place in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia on Tuesday, April 9 at 18.30 (17.30 Irish time).
Frankfurt player, Emily Kraft was due to come into Bell's squad from the Under-17 team's recent Elite Round games in Scotland, but the 17-year-old suffered an ACL injured in the first game against Norway.
Bell said: "The initial squad that I picked had Emily Kraft in it, but obviously she's out with the ACL now, so Zara Foley's comes back in to the frame to replace Emily after doing very well with the Under-17s in Scotland.
"Heather Payne is not in the squad because she'll be strengthening the Under-19s playing in the Elite Round, otherwise Heather would definitely have been included, as she's now a regular starter in the team. So then we've got Rianna Jarrett (pictured above) coming in to replace Heather, not in the same position, but as another player. It's good to have Rianna coming back in, she's in good form for Wexford, and we'll be looking forward to seeing how she's recovered after a long injury, and to looking at her fitness and just to get her back into the frame."
As the Republic of Ireland will face Germany in the their qualifying group, Bell said it is important that the squad faces other top teams as they plan for the campaign.
"I'm hoping for a really good test against Italy, they're a really strong side so we are total outsiders in this one. But we want to compete against the best teams. We beat Wales in the last camp - they are a second seed in the Euros - now we're aiming to see if we can beat a first-seed team because we have Germany in our group, so we need to be comparing ourselves and battling against these kind of nations to be really prepared for the next campaign," said Bell.
Bell explained that preparations have now started in earnest in order to build a squad for the European Championship qualifiers.
He said: "Everything now needs to be really focused. In the last camp we could really tell that now that the draw had been made everybody was really programmed and focused and there was a really good buzz around the place, so we want to continue with that and build from that, keep the momentum going. All the energy that we have will now just be focused on this Euro campaign.
"We need competition for places, it can't be a given that certain players are nominated all the time. Are they performing well enough, is their form good, are they playing for their clubs? But when we have a full squad, I think we have a very good side."
Republic of Ireland WNT squad v Italy
Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihan (Brighton and Hove Albion), Grace Maloney (Reading)
Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Louise Quinn (Arsenal), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Claire O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Megan Campbell (Manchester City), Zara Foley (Cork City), Eabha O'Mahoney (Cork City), Megan Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion)
Midfielders: Tyler Toland (Kildrum Tigers), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Niamh Farrelly (Peamount)
Forwards: Amber Barrett (Peamount United), Leanne Kiernan (West Ham United), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Rianna Jarrett (Wexford Youths)
Fixtures - International Friendly
09/04: Italy v Republic of Ireland, Mapei Stadium, Reggio Emilia, 18:30 (17:30 Irish time)