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Dundalk playmaker named in Ireland U21 squad for crucial Euro qualifiers

Noel King’s side take on Kosovo and Germany in their bid to book a place at next year’s tournament.

Dundalk's Jamie McGrath.
Dundalk's Jamie McGrath.
Image: Savvides Press Sports/INPHO

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U21 manager Noel King has named a squad of 18 players for his side’s upcoming European Championship qualifying fixtures against Kosovo and Germany.

Ireland take on Kosovo in Mitrovica on Friday evening, before hosting the Germans at Tallaght Stadium next Monday (both 6pm Irish time).

King has handed a first call-up to creative midfielder Jamie McGrath, who has helped Dundalk to open up a six-point lead at the top of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division this season.

McGrath is one of three current League of Ireland players in the squad, joining Derry City brothers Ronan and Rory Hale. Cork City defender Danny Kane is also included, although he’s now on loan at AFC Fylde in England’s National League.

King will be forced to plan without Yeovil Town defender Shaun Donnellan and Queens Park Rangers winger Olamide Shodipo, both of whom are sidelined with injuries.

The most notable absentee is West Ham’s Declan Rice. The 19-year-old, who has been a key player for Ireland in their campaign so far, is considering his international future amid interest from England, his country of birth.

“The players are really looking forward to the week ahead and the squad are excited about the fixtures,” Noel King said. “They’ve got ourselves into a great position going into the games and they’ll look to secure more crucial points in these next two games.”

With four games still to play, Ireland are currently in second place in Group 5, three points behind Germany but with a game in hand.

The 2019 European U21 Championships will take place in Italy and San Marino next June.

Republic of Ireland U21 squad v Kosovo and Germany

Goalkeepers: Kieran O’Hara (Manchester United, on loan at Macclesfield Town), Liam Bossin (Nottingham Forest)

Defenders: Danny Kane (Cork City FC, on loan at AFC Fylde), Ryan Sweeney (Stoke City, on loan at Mansfield United), Liam Kinsella (Walsall), Connor Shaughnessy (Leeds United), Ryan Delaney (Rochdale), Corey Whelan (Liverpool, on loan at Crewe Alexandra)

Midfielders: Jake Mulraney (Hearts), Jamie McGrath (Dundalk), Ryan Manning (QPR, on loan at Rotherham United), Harry Charsley (Everton), Josh Cullen (West Ham United, on loan at Charlton Athletic), Rory Hale (Derry City)

Forwards: Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth), Joe Quigley (Maidstone), Reece Grego-Cox (Crawley Town), Ronan Hale (Birmingham City, on loan at Derry City)

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Paul Dollery

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