The Republic of Ireland Under-21s head into today’s clash with Group F leaders Italy knowing a win will take them to a first ever U21s European Championship Finals.
Last week, Jim Crawford’s team secured at least a play-off spot after back-to-back home wins in Tallaght Stadium against Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro, while Italy and Sweden could only draw in Helsingborg.
The young Boys in Green know now maximum points against the unbeaten Italians in Ascoli will secure their place in next summer’s finals in Romania and Georgia.
Fixture: Italy U21 v Republic of Ireland U21
KO time: 4.30pm (Irish time)
Stadium: Stadio Cino e Lillo Del Duca, Ascoli,
Where to watch: RTÉ2 and RTÉPlayer
Walsall defender Oisin McEntee has been ruled out of the game with a shoulder injury and hasn’t travelled to Italy.
Republic of Ireland U21 Manager Jim Crawford said: “They (Italy) have real quality. They have talented players playing in Serie A and Serie B so it’s going to be a great challenge for us and something our group of players will learn from. What a position to be in, knowing if we can win, we top the group which would be an unbelievable achievement.”
Republic of Ireland U21 Captain Conor Coventry said: “We don’t want to be a team that nearly done it or came so close – we want to qualify. We’d love to do it here on Tuesday. That’s the aim, we’re coming here to win. We’re not coming to just have a game or practice for the play-offs, the aim is to win.”
Republic of Ireland Under-21s Squad
Goalkeepers: Brian Maher (Derry City), Luke McNicholas (Sligo Rovers), David Harrington (Cork City).
Defenders: Tayo Adaramola (Crystal Palace), Joe Bagan (Cardiff City), Eiran Cashin (Derby County), Andy Lyons (Shamrock Rovers), Mark McGuinness (Cardiff City), Jake O’Brien (Crystal Palace), Lee O’Connor (Tranmere Rovers).
Midfielders: Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Dawson Devoy (Bohemians), Joe Hodge (Wolves), Gavin Kilkenny (Bournemouth), Conor Noss (Borussia Möchengladbach), Will Smallbone (Southampton), Ross Tierney (Motherwell).
Forwards: Sinclair Armstrong (QPR), Darragh Burns (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Evan Ferguson (Brighton & Hove Albion), JJ Kayode (Rotherham United), Liam Kerrigan (UCD), Ollie O’Neill (Fulham), Mipo Odubeko (West Ham United), Tyreik Wright (Aston Villa).