King announces U21 squad for USA & Russia games
REPUBLIC of Ireland U21 head coach Noel King has announced a 23-man squad for two friendly games against the USA and Russia in Marbella later this month.
King’s side will meet the Americans on Saturday, November 15, then face the Russians on Monday, November 17. These games are continued preparation for the next UEFA U21 Championships qualifying campaign which not begin until later next year.
After consultation with Republic of Ireland senior team manager Martin O’Neill King has drafted in Hull City defender Brian Lenihan, who played with the U21s against Qatar in a friendly in May.
“I spoke to Martin about Brian Lenihan. He was with us originally and now he is back to us for these games,” said King.
“The more we work together the hope is that we can develop a squad that will be ready to compete for qualification in the next campaign.”
Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish has not been included after King spoke to the player’s father ahead of naming his squad.
"I spoke to Jack's dad. He feels he wants to concentrate on his Aston Villa career. That's his choice and I accept it so I’ll be focusing on working with the players we have with us. We have a lot of work to do,” he said.
King has called in Shelbourne defender Lee Desmond, St Patrick’s Athletic’s Sean Hoare, Wigan Athletic striker Matthew Hamilton and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Glen Rea for the first time.
"We've been busy working on a few. All of them are players who've brought in for the first time. I have watched them all myself and have had reports on their progress,” he said.
"Matthew Hamilton we've watched quite a bit. He is a striker on the edge of Wigan’s first team and has been doing well with his clubs U21s.
"Glen Rea is a centre-midfielder who can also play in defence. We've a lot of information on him from their academy director John Morling who previously worked for the FAI and we've had a look at him in action for his club.
“Sean Hoare has had a very good season with St Pat’s. For a young guy to come into the side that were champions and kept out experienced players like Ken Oman and Derek Foran speaks volumes for a lad of his age. He played well in the FAI Ford Cup Final last weekend too.
“Lee Desmond I've seen a fair bit too with Shelbourne and he is a player with plenty of potential.”
Ireland’s U21s lost 4-1 to Norway in a friendly in Drammen last month and with his mind on next year’s qualifying campaign the Irish boss felt it was an experience he gained a lot of knowledge from.
"There's a lot of players who can show what they can do on this trip. Any one of them can step up and be a key player in the qualifiers,” said King.
"These friendly games will be very useful in the long term. We're looking to have 11 v 11 sessions in training. Everybody will play at some stage in what should be two good games.
"We learned a lot about the players in Norway and I learned a lot about myself from the last game. These friendly games are about learning about how players react to what we ask them to do, how we interact and what the staff does to go towards producing a side that can compete.”
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U21 SQUAD:
Ian Lawlor (Manchester City)
Danny Rogers (Aberdeen - on loan at Dumbarton)
Sean Long (Reading)
Shane Griffin (Reading)
Pierce Sweeney (Reading)
Thomas Hoban (Watford)
Brain Lenihan (Hull City)
Mason Watkins-Clark (Stoke City)
Eoghan O’Connell (Celtic)
Sean Kavanagh (Fulham)
Jack Connors (Dagenham & Redbridge)
Glen Rea (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Sean Hoare (St Patrick's Athletic)
Lee Desmond (Shelbourne)
Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers - on loan at Burton Albion)
William Hayhurst (Preston North End)
Alan Browne (Preston North End)
Jack Byrne (Manchester City)
Kieran Sadlier (West Ham Utd - on-loan at Brighton)
Kenneth McEvoy (Tottenham - on-loan at Peterborough)
Sam Byrne (Everton)
Connor Wilkinson (Bolton Wanderers)
Matthew Hamilton (Wigan Athletic)
Saturday, November 15
USA v Republic of Ireland, San Pedro Stadium, Marbella (2.00pm Irish)
Monday, November 17
Russia v Republic of Ireland, Marbella Football Center, Marbella (5.00pm Irish)