PREVIEW | Montenegro U21 v Ireland U21
Republic of Ireland Under-21s will play their final away game of 2021 when they meet Montenegro in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group F qualifier in Podgorica on Tuesday evening at 4.30pm (Irish time).
Ireland go into the game on the back of Friday night’s 2-0 win over Luxembourg at Tallaght Stadium and will return to the south Dublin venue next month for crucial home qualifiers against Sweden and Italy.
Just 500 fans are expected at the Gradski Stadion in Podgorica as Ireland seek to build on their wins against Bosnia & Herzegvina and Luxembourg and a draw away to Luxembourh so far in Group F.
Fixture: Montenegro U21 v Ireland U21
KO Time: 4.30pm (Irish time)
Stadium: Gradski Stadion, Podgorica
Where to watch: RTÉ
Referee: Barbeno Luca (SMR)
Assistant referee: Francesco Lunardon (SMR)
Assistant referee: Gian Marco Ercolani (SMR)
Fourth official: Giacomo Cenci (SMR)
Ireland flew to Montenegro with a 29-man squad following changes to the UK’s red list categorisation which allowed Jim Crawford to travel with all but five of the players who featured in the squad for the Luxembourg game.
The Ireland players trained at the Gradski Stadion on Tuesday night with manager Crawford reporting no injury worries as he looks for a 100 per cent return from the two games in the October international window.
Manager Jim Crawford said: “The target in every game is to win and in this window the target was six points. There’s no doubt about it, if we can get six points from the Luxembourg match on Friday and here against Montenegro then it makes it interesting, the next window, because we’re against two of the higher-rated teams in the group in Italy and Sweden. Italy play Sweden on Tuesday night as well, so that’s going to be an interesting game and we’ll get a lot from that.
“But certainly, with regards us getting six points, then it would set up the next window nicely and with the two games in the next window in Tallaght Stadium, we’d like to think that we can get a decent crowd there and get behind the players because they’ll be two fantastic games, there’s no doubt about it.”
Ireland and Cardiff City defender Mark McGuinness said: “It was great for everyone to get the win on Friday and get that winning momentum going. They are all important games but to get the three points in Tallaght as well was fantastic and with the fans in the ground watching and supporting. Having them there gives us an extra special buzz and thanks to everyone who came to the game.
“Winning games is important in itself and to get six points out of this window would be fantastic. We know what the challenges are with Montenegro, they are a good side and another win would be special. Whether it’s Montenegro or Italy or Sweden, it’s always important to win. But to have that base going into November would just give us extra confidence. To be unbeaten in four games would be really good going into those big games next month.”
Republic of Ireland Under-21 Squad
Goalkeepers: Brian Maher (Bray Wanderers), Luke McNicholas (Cliftonville, on loan from Sligo Rovers), David Odumosu (Drogheda United)
Defenders: Joel Bagan (Cardiff City), Ronan Boyce (Derry City), Josh Honohan (Cork City), Andy Lyons (Bohemians), Mark McGuinness (Cardiff City), Niall Morahan (Sligo Rovers), Jake O’Brien (Crystal Palace), Lee O’Connor (Tranmere Rovers, on loan from Celtic), Andrew Quinn (Bray Wanderers, on loan from Dundalk), Luke Turner (Cliftonville, on loan from Aberdeen)
Midfielders: Conor Coventry (Peterborough United, on loan from West Ham United), Dawson Devoy (Bohemians), Alex Gilbert (Swindon Town, on loan from Brentford), Gavin Kilkenny (Bournemouth), Conor Noss (Borussia Möchengladbach), Killian Phillips (Drogheda United), Ross Tierney (Bohemians)
Forwards: Evan Ferguson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Will Ferry (Crawley Town, on loan from Southampton), Brandon Kavanagh (Bray Wanderers), Joshua ‘JJ’ Kayode (Rotherham United), Johnny Kenny (Sligo Rovers), Liam Kerrigan (UCD), Andrew Moran (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ollie O’Neill (Fulham), Colm Whelan (UCD)