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King’s U21s Ready For Norwegian Challenge

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REPUBLIC of Ireland U21 head coach Noel King is looking for his young side to build on their recent impressive performances when they meet Norway in a friendly in Drammen tomorrow (6.00pm Irish).

King’s side drew with Qatar’s Olympic side in May then produced a disciplined display against Germany last month.

With a view towards next year’s qualifying campaign, the Irish boss is getting to know this new crop of U21 players and believes this fixture will be very beneficial in that process.

“We had a long day travelling to Norway and naturally everybody was tired after that but we trained last night to loosen ourselves out and now everybody is fresher and ready for the game,” said King.

“Norway finished third in the World U20 twice and also third in UEFA U21 Championships so we know it’ll be tough. They have traditionally been physical and direct but we’ll have to adjust to whatever way they play.

“For all us, staff and players, it’s still a case of getting to know each other. They will learn what we’re looking for as staff while for us we are continuing to learn about their attributes and their versatility.

“It’s all about developing as a group and working out how we can tie it all together to be a competitive force.”

After a promising start to the most recent U21 qualifying campaign Ireland eventually fell away in the group and King wants to push closer to qualifying for the 2017 UEFA U21 Championships.

“We’ve been very good in recruiting players and winning games but we want to go on and challenge to qualify,” said King.

“We always start to struggle when players move on to the next level and are longer available to you but that’s probably the case with all U21 teams.

“Football is strange in that pinpointing exactly why you don’t qualify can be difficult but there are always little things that could have gone your way that would have made the difference.

“Over the years we would be stronger at producing defenders than forwards so I suppose that attacking area is one where we’ll be looking for somebody to make their mark.”

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND:

Ian Lawlor (Manchester City)

Danny Rogers (Aberdeen – on-loan at Dumbarton FC)

Sean Long (Reading)

Mason Watkins-Clark (Stoke City)

Thomas Hoban (Watford)

Shane Griffin (Reading)

Eoghan O’Connell (Celtic)

Pierce Sweeney (Reading)

Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers)

Alan Browne (Preston North End)

Jack Connors (Dagenham & Redbridge)

Kieran Sadlier (West Ham United)

Kenneth McEvoy (Tottenham Hotspur – on-loan at Peterborough United)

Sean Kavanagh (Fulham)

Jack Byrne (Manchester City)

Dylan Connolly (Shelbourne)

Philip Roberts (Dundee FC)

Sam Byrne (Everton)

Image courtesy of FAI

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