Troy Parrott, Aaron Connolly and Michael Obafemi have all been included by Stephen Kenny in a strong Ireland under-21 squad for the European Championship qualifiers at home to Italy and away next Thursday, October 10th, and away to Iceland five days later.
Kenny, who declined to explain what exactly the health issues were which kept him in Sweden after the qualifier there, said that one or more of the players may still be called up to the senior squad by Mick McCarthy, with Connolly the most likely to go but, for the moment, he said: “He is in our squad for the game against Italy.”
Asked about his health, Kenny acknowledged that he had had to extend his stay after the team’s win over the Swedes. “I’m feeling very well now, though. I had to stay on in Sweden but there’s probably not a place with a better health system, so it could have been worse.
“I was in England all of last week looking at games and there against yesterday, so I’ve been working away and I feel fine.”
Ireland are top of their group at present having won all three of their games so far but both Italy and Iceland also have maximum points, albeit it from fewer games.
Despite the progress made by a couple of them at their clubs in recent weeks, Kenny has retained just about all of the stand-out performers from last month's double-header, with Jayson Molumby and Conor Masterson included in the 22-man squad too.
Connor Ronan returns after having missed the qualifiers against Armenia and Sweden through injury, while Bohemians left back Darragh Leahy is absent due to injury.
The game against Italy at Tallaght Stadium (kick-off 8.05), which has sold out, will be broadcast live on Eir Sport.
IRELAND UNDER-21 SQUAD
Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City); Danny McNamara (Newport County, on loan from Millwall), Lee O’Connor (Celtic), Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Conor Masterson (QPR), Liam Scales (UCD AFC), Nathan Collins (Stoke City), Kameron Ledwidge (Southampton); Jayson Molumby (Millwall, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Jason Knight (Derby County), Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Jack Taylor (Barnet), Connor Ronan (DAC Dunajská Streda, on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers), Dan Mandroiu (Bohemians), Gavin Kilkenny (AFC Bournemouth), Zack Elbouzedi (Waterford); Adam Idah (Norwich City), Troy Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur), Jonathan Afolabi (Celtic), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Michael Obafemi (Southampton).