Ireland boss Pauw frustrated at absence of Payne and Scott for Greece game

‘The players have tried everything to get here, so we cannot blame them’

Ireland’s Heather Payne in action against Ukraine’s Olha Basanska during the qualifier at Tallaght Stadium. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Republic of Ireland women's manager Vera Pauw has expressed frustration at missing Heather Payne and Harriet Scott for next week's European qualifier in Greece due to college commitments.

Starting the campaign with victories over Montenegro and Ukraine has given Ireland a strong chance to reach a first-ever major tournament but the absence of the pair represents a serious blow ahead of their visit to Athens on Tuesday.

Colleges are not compelled to release their players during a Fifa window.

“It is very disappointing for colleges to stop our players from playing for the national team,” said the Dutchwoman.


"We're also missing Megan Campbell, Megan Connolly and Courtney Brosnan through injuries but they can happen.

“Colleges promise golden mountains to players. Their coaches say they can go for international duty but the professor says: ‘no you can’t or we can stop your scholarship’.”

It appears the cases of Payne and Scott are slightly different.

For Payne, this is not the first time the FAI have experienced difficulties with Florida State University in gaining permission for releases. Megan Campbell and Megan Connolly were two of their past scholarship recipients.

Scott is currently combining her career as a professional at Birmingham City with upgrading her physiotherapist qualification to a medical degree at Keele University in England, where the academic demands are high.

“I only found out about this last week, which is also disappointing,” continued Pauw about two players who have started in the campaign.

“The players have tried everything to get here, so we cannot blame them.”

With multiple champions Germany expected to seal the one automatic ticket from Group I into to the 2021 Euros, Pauw is targeting one of the three best runners-up slots. That outcome would automatically accompany them with the nine group victors to the showpiece in England; otherwise second place secures a spot in the playoffs.

Third seeds Ireland cannot afford a slip-up against Greece to avoid running the gauntlet of the backdoor route.

“The Ukraine win was huge because we had to beat the second seeded nation to have a chance of qualifying,” Pauw said of last month’s 3-2 victory at Tallaght Stadium.

“Now we’re in the situation that we cannot lose points.”

Pauw will assemble her 24-player squad, including eight home-based members, at Johnstown House in Enfield on Wednesday before they fly to Athens on Sunday.

The veteran coach is eager to build on a winning start to her latest international post.

“It helped that I had a good long talk with the players before the Ukraine game,” said Pauw.

“It felt like we were on this path together as the players were very professional. We must keep that going in Greece.”


Goalkeepers: Marie Hourihane (SC Braga), Grace Moloney (Reading), Niamh Reid Burke (Peamount United)

Defenders: Keeva Keena (Celtic), Diane Caldwell (SC Sand), Claire Walsh (Peamount United), Claire O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Louise Quinn (Arsenal), Chloe Mustaki (Shelbourne), Eabha O'Mahony (Cork City WFC)

Midfielders: Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Stephanie Roche (CF Florentia), Tyler Toland (Manchester City), Hayley Nolan (University of Hartford), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Jamie Finn (Shelbourne)

Forwards: Rianna Jarrett (Wexford Youths), Leanne Kiernan (West Ham United), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Katie McCabe (Arsenal), Julie-Ann Russell (Sydney University), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Clare Shine (Glasgow City)

Women's European Championship 2021 Group I Qualifier: Greece v Republic of Ireland, Tuesday, November 12th, Nea Smyrna Stadium, Panionios, Athens, kick-off 3pm local, 1pm Irish time.