Kenny to be without Connolly and Afolabi from previous win over Sweden
Svanberg and Kulusevski unavailable for Sweden due to involvement with senior squad
Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny at under-21 training at Tallaght Stadium, Dublin, prior to playing Sweden. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Under-21 European Championship Group One qualifier
Republic of Ireland v Sweden
Tallaght Stadium, 8pm, Live EirSport 1.
Stephen Kenny’s ploy in this European Championship campaign of gaining a headstart on his under-21 rivals by packing 70 per cent of the Republic of Ireland’s qualifiers into eight months will get a proper assessment after this meeting with Sweden.
The incoming manager of the under-21s, mindful of his need to depart for the senior job as soon as possible after Euro 2020, got his wish at the draw in December of frontloading his fixtures.
Bottom seeds in the group to qualify for the 2021 finals, Luxembourg were easily accounted for 3-0 back in March, an isolated fixture ahead of three double-headers later in the year.
Three further wins were accrued in those five matches, along with a draw against top seeds Italy and their sole defeat of the campaign in Iceland.
Ten points from 15 keep Ireland top of the table, but with seven of the 16 matches by Tuesday night having featured Kenny’s team, the room for error is receding.
Kenny will have two more competitive games left, at home to Iceland and away to Luxembourg, before a successor will take the final outing in Italy next September.
In a campaign where second place will clinch a play-off for the finals, beating the second seeds Swedes 3-1 eight weeks ago was their most impressive of the results to date.
Italy, despite Ireland holding them scoreless last month, are fully expected to claim the one automatic place on offer into the finals, to be jointly hosted by Hungary and Slovenia.
Kenny will be without Aaron Connolly and Jonathan Afolabi from that victory in Kalmar, Sweden, while the availability of Troy Parrott is dependent on his involvement in the senior game against Denmark.
“To be up there at the top of the table on 16 looking down on the other teams will be scary for them,” said Nathan Collins, the teen defender in line to win his second cap.
“Becoming the first to reach an under-21 finals is a big thing we’re striving for. If will be historic. We know we’ve players in the squad capable of achieving that.”