Ireland under-21s still have eyes on Euros as they face Germany
Defender says his side need to be confident going into clash with group leaders
Ireland’s Conor Shaughnessy: “Everyone knows what a strong team Germany have but we’ll respect rather than fear them.”Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
2019 European qualifier: Ireland v Germany
Tallaght Stadium, 6pm
Republic of Ireland under-21 defender Conor Shaughnessy believes his side have nothing to fear against Germany when they face the leaders of their European Championship qualification group at Tallaght Stadium this evening.
With three matches remaining, two of which are with Germany, Noel King’s side will need results to make up the three points they trail by in second spot. Just the winner of the pool progresses to next year’s finals in Italy and San Marino, with second only sufficient to clinch a play-off if the points total ranks among the four highest across the nine groups.
For all the pedigree of Germany, with seven survivors in their team from last year’s triumph in Poland, they have encountered a few speed bumps during this series. Norway inflicted a 3-1 defeat on them while the surprise packets in the group, Kosovo, followed up a narrow 1-0 loss by holding them scoreless at home.
Shaughnessy, the Galway native playing for Leeds United, realises he’ll have his work cut out in central defence to marshal Germany’s talented frontmen yet sees grounds for optimism. A win would rank as the best result of King’s eight-year tenure.
“I think we’ve got to be confident heading into this game,” said the 22-year-old. “Everyone knows what a strong team Germany have but we’ll respect rather than fear them.
“This is a position we gladly would have taken at the start of the campaign and I believe we’ll be fine against Germany if we do things right.”
Shaun Donnellan is likely to come in alongside Shaughnessy at the back as Ryan Sweeney is suspended. The Stoke City defender joined Ronan Curtis on the banned list after incurring his third booking of the campaign in Friday’s 1-1 draw away to Kosovo. Ireland conclude their campaign with a double-header away to Israel and Germany next month.