Pauw invites Irish-eligible quartet to join squad ahead of double-header of friendlies
Ireland will play Denmark in Tallaght on Thursday before an away game on Sunday against Belgium.

republic-of-ireland-v-germany-uefa-womens-euro-2021-qualifying-group-i-tallaght-stadium PA Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw. PA

THE REPUBLIC OF Ireland’s fringe players are set to be given a chance to impress manager Vera Pauw in the upcoming friendlies against Denmark and Belgium.

The 32-woman provisional squad announced by Pauw last month has been reduced to 24, with the players convening in Dublin this evening.

Ireland are due to take on Denmark at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday, before travelling to face Belgium at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels on Sunday (both 6.30pm).

Eabha O’Mahony, Jessica Ziu, Isibeal Atkinson, Saoirse Noonan and Stephanie Roche are among the eight players who have been omitted. Leanne Kiernan and Clare Shine are unavailable through injury, while Niamh Reid-Burke has announced her international retirement. DLR Waves goalkeeper Eve Badana will train with the squad.

Other absentees include Harriet Scott, who has exam commitments, and Megan Campbell, who’s still sidelined with a long-term injury. Julie-Ann Russell and Nicole Douglas – based in Australia and USA respectively – are ruled out by Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Pauw has also invited four Irish-eligible players – defender Florence Gamby (London Bees), midfielder Lily Agg (London City Lionesses), and forwards Emily Murphy (Birmingham City) and Aoife Colvill (Glasgow City) – to link up with her squad for this camp, although the FAI say they won’t be involved in the games against Denmark and Belgium.

Murphy, who’s currently on loan at Birmingham from Women’s Super League champions Chelsea, and Agg have both captained England at underage level, while Colvill is a former Australia youth international.

mRfhwLPO PA Emily Murphy, Aoife Colvill, Lily Agg and Florence Gamby. PA

The meetings with the Danes and the Belgians will represent the first non-competitive fixtures of Vera Pauw’s managerial reign, which began in September 2019.

The Ireland boss intends to arrange more friendlies for June, as she looks ahead to the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign. The draw for the qualifiers is set to take place on 30 April, with the games scheduled to begin in September.

A friendly at home to Brazil had been in the works for this international window but it was scuppered by Covid-19 restrictions. Nevertheless, Pauw is looking forward to taking on two sides who have qualified for next year’s European Championship.

“Denmark are a very dynamic and high-level team,” said the Dutchwoman, who signed a new two-year contract in February. “Belgium are also a very good team but just a little bit under Denmark.

“All the players that we haven’t seen will get game-time because we need to see them and we need to know how they perform in this environment, because you cannot judge that completely from club games.

“You can only develop and take risks in friendlies. Qualification matches, you cannot use for that. We need to see the players who I haven’t seen yet.

“It can be that we can lose both games – because they are ranked 13th and 17th in the world ranking list, and we are 32nd – but I don’t fear losing in this stage. We need to learn as much as we can. The players who have never played for me, we can judge them the best under high pressure.”

Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (West Ham United), Marie Hourihan (SC Braga), Grace Moloney (Reading)

Defenders: Keeva Keenan (Celtic), Claire O’Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Louise Quinn (Fiorentina), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (North Carolina Courage), Claire Walsh (Peamount United), Niamh Farrelly (Glasgow City), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United)

Midfielders: Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths), Jamie Finn (Shelbourne), Hayley Nolan (London City Lionesses), Ruesha Littlejohn (Birmingham City), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Alli Murphy (London City Lionesses), Katie McCabe (Arsenal)

Forwards: Rianna Jarrett (Brighton & Hove Albion), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Heather Payne (Florida State University), Kyra Carusa (HB Hoge)

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