Michael Obafemi in Ireland U21 squad for Italy qualifier

New manager Jim Crawford has named five League of Ireland players in his selection

Southampton’s Michael Obafemi has been named in the Ireland under-21 squad. Photo: Getty Images

Dundalk’s Darragh Leahy is one of five League of Ireland player’s included in the Irish Under-21 squad for the key European Championship qualifying game against Italy in Pisa on October 13th. Jim Crawford’s side lead their qualification group with three games to play but their hosts this month have a match in hand and would go top on goal difference if they win.

Leahy, who has been in strong form while playing at left back for Dundalk during the club’s successful progress through the Europa League qualifying rounds, is joined by Sligo Rovers goalkeeper Ed McGinty, Shamrock Rovers’ pair Neil Farrugia and Liam Scales as well as Danny Mandroiu in the squad of 22.

Senior internationals Michael Obafemi, who expressed his frustration on social media last month after being omitted by Stephen Kenny for the games against Bulgaria and Finland, and Lee O’Connor are both included. Southampton are well represented with Will Ferry and Will Smallbone also set to travel and 20-year-old Joshua Kayode, currently on loan to Carlisle from Rotherham United, will also be in contention to make his debut.

West Brom’s Dara O’Shea reverts to the Under-21s having been called into the senior set up for the first time last month.


“We know the challenge that awaits us in Pisa”, says Crawford. “Italy are top seeds in the group and we expect this to be the toughest game we have played so far.

“Our squad is very experienced, and includes senior internationals like Lee and Michael. The squad worked hard in last month’s Training Camp and I look forward to getting the group together next week before we travel to Italy.”

Ireland under-21 squad: Gavin Bazunu (Rochdale), Ed McGinty (Sligo Rovers); Nathan Collins (Stoke City), Darragh Leahy (Dundalk), Conor Masterson (Queens Park Rangers), Danny McNamara (St Johnstone), Lee O'Connor (Tranmere Rovers), Thomas O'Connor (Southampton), Dara O'Shea (West Brom), Liam Scales (Shamrock Rovers); Conor Coventry (West Ham), Will Ferry (Southampton), Jason Knight (Derby County), Daniel Mandroiu (Bohemians), Connor Ronan (Grasshopper Zurich), Will Smallbone (Southampton), Jack Taylor (Peterborough United); Jonathan Afolabi (Dundee), Zach Elbouzedi (Lincoln City), Neil Farrugia (Shamrock Rovers), Joshua Kayode (Carlisle United), Michael Obafemi (Southampton).