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Dublin: 12°C Friday 23 April 2021

Big names included as Ireland gear up for final friendly before World Cup qualifiers

Colin Bell’s side face Scotland in July.

Stephanie Roche missed the draw with Iceland but is included in this month's squad.
Stephanie Roche missed the draw with Iceland but is included in this month's squad.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

IRELAND WOMEN’S HEAD coach Colin Bell has been able to name a largely full-strength squad for his side’s final friendly before World Cup qualifying begins in September.

Following their draw with Iceland at Tallaght Stadium earlier this month, Ireland will travel to Stark’s Park to face Scotland on Friday 7 July as they fine-tune preparations for Bell’s first qualification campaign in charge.

The head coach, who has lost just one of his six games in charge, has announced a 21-player panel for the international friendly, with Celtic’s Ruesha Littlejohn, Denise O’Sullivan of Houston Dash and Stephanie Roche among those included.

Roche missed the goalless stalemate with Iceland through injury and will face another fitness test ahead of the trip to Scotland next month, while Shelbourne forward Leanne Kiernan has recently recovered from injury to return to the squad.

“It is the final game before we start our World Cup qualification campaign so it is important we continue to improve on the form we’ve shown this year,” Bell said.

“I was really impressed with the spirit and determination shown against a strong Iceland side in difficult conditions and I’ll be looking for the same qualities in Scotland for what should be another difficult test. Scotland are currently in a pre-European Championships camp whilst our players will be coming back from holiday.

“The individual responsibility of my players will be vital and I’ve every confidence that the players will be well prepared for the game.”

Ireland have been drawn in Group 3 alongside Norway, Netherlands, Slovakia and Northern Ireland, with their campaign opener coming against the north on Tuesday 19 September.

Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihan (Manchester City), Emma Byrne (Brighton and Hove Albion), Amanda Budden (Cork City WFC).

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Reading WFC), Sophie Perry (Brighton and Hove Albion), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Louise Quinn (Arsenal Ladies), Niamh Fahey (Chelsea WFC), Megan Campbell (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Karen Duggan (UCD Waves), Denise O’Sullivan (Houston Dash), Megan Connolly (Florida State University), Ruesha Littlejohn (Celtic), Roma McLaughlin (Shelbourne Ladies), Stephanie Roche (Sunderland Ladies), Alex Kavanagh (Shelbourne Ladies).

Forwards: Aine O’Gorman (UCD Waves), Dearbhaile Beirne (UCD Waves), Leanne Kiernan (Shelbourne Ladies), Heather Payne (Peamount United), Katie McCabe (Arsenal Ladies).

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