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Rice and O'Hara to rejoin Ireland U21s for crunch Euro qualifier after senior call-up

Noel King has also named three League of Ireland players in his 21-man panel.

Rice has featured 18 times in the Premier League this season for West Ham.
Rice has featured 18 times in the Premier League this season for West Ham.
Image: Jan Kruger

IRELAND WILL HAVE Declan Rice and Kieran O’Hara available for their U21 European Championship qualifier against Azerbaijan next week as Noel King’s side look to continue their strong start to the campaign.

West Ham midfielder Rice and O’Hara, the Manchester United goalkeeper, have been called up to Martin O’Neill’s senior squad for the friendly against Turkey next Friday, but will then rejoin King’s panel for the crunch Group 5 qualifier.

King has named a 21-man squad for the friendly outing against Iceland and qualifier against Azerbaijan at Tallaght Stadium, with three League of Ireland players among those included.

There is a recall for forward Olamide Shodipo to the squad after he missed the last outings due to injury, whilst there are call-ups for Cork City’s Danny Kane and Derry City duo Ronan Curtis and Rory Hale.

With Rice and O’Hara away with the seniors for Thursday’s clash with Iceland, King has called on Liverpool ‘keeper Caoimhin Kelleher as cover.

“I’m really looking forward to getting the players back in and working with them to continue what we’ve achieved during this campaign,” King said.

“I want to extend my congratulations to Declan Rice and Kieran O’Hara who received call-ups to the senior squad for the match against Turkey. It is a great opportunity for them and we look forward to welcoming them back into the squad for the Azerbaijan match.

Kieran O'Hara O'Hara has also been called up by Martin O'Neill. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“The Iceland match will be a great opportunity for us to prepare for the qualifier against Azerbaijan and I expect the players to continue to maintain the high standards they’ve set themselves already in this campaign.”

Having won three of their five Group 5 games so far, Ireland are in a strong position at the halfway mark, sitting in second behind leaders Germany.

The group winners automatically qualify for next summer’s tournament in Italy with four of the best runners-up earning a place in the play-off round.

Ireland face Iceland on Thursday 22 March at 7.30pm before hosting Azerbaijan in Tallaght on Tuesday 27 March.

Ireland U21 squad:

Goalkeepers: Kieran O’Hara (Manchester United), Liam Bossin (Nottingham Forest), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool)

Defenders: Danny Kane (Cork City), Ryan Sweeney (Stoke City – on loan at Bristol Rovers), Shaun Donnellan (Yeovil Town), Corey Whelan (Liverpool – on loan at Yeovil Town), Liam Kinsella (Walsall), Ryan Delaney (Rochdale AFC)

Midfielders: Josh Cullen (West Ham United), Harry Charsley (Everton – on loan at Bolton Wanderers), Rory Hale (Derry City), Declan Rice (West Ham United), Connor Ronan (Wolverhampton Wanderers – on loan at Portsmouth), Connor Dimaio (Unattached)

Attackers: Reece Grego-Cox (Woking FC), Ryan Manning (QPR), Ronan Curtis (Derry City), Joe Quigley (AFC Bournemouth – on loan at Boreham Wood), Jake Mulraney (Inverness CT), Olamide Shodipo (QPR – on loan at Colchester United)

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Ryan Bailey

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