Under-21s face battle in Slovenia to keep qualification hopes alive

Noel King’s side must bounce back following Italy defeat

Republic of Ireland’s Jack Byrne (r) and Gaetano Monachello of Italy during the March 24th tie at the RSC in Waterford Photograph: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Republic of Ireland’s Jack Byrne (r) and Gaetano Monachello of Italy during the March 24th tie at the RSC in Waterford Photograph: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

 

The Republic of Ireland Under-21s face Slovenia in Koper on Monday evening knowing that a positive result is vital if they are to stay in the running to qualify for the 2017 European Under-21 Championship in Poland.

An excellent Italy side left Ireland deflated on Thursday night, winning 4-1 in Waterford. That loss has left Noel King’s side fourth in Group Two and rendered Monday’s tie a crucial one.

Following three successive defeats Ireland now sit seven points off leaders Italy, four behind second placed Serbia and three adrift of Slovenia.

Despite the poor run of results there is time yet to ressurect the campaign. With Slovenia visiting Dublin in September and the final two group games against Serbia, King knows a win on Monday would bring a playoff spot back into view.

“We’re still in with a chance of finishing second. Slovenia are a very good side and have had some good results themselves and it’s a difficult test but we’re going into the game looking to get three points out of it,” said King.

The hosts come into the game following an impressive 2-0 home win against playoff rivals Serbia.

“This group was never going to be easy with the quality of teams in it. Slovenia are a very talented side without having the international reputation of a side like Italy but they do cause teams problems,” King added.

Ireland will be without Brighton’s Glen Rea due to suspension, while Shamrock Rovers midfielder Brandon Miele was unable to travel. Bray Wanderers winger Dylan Connolly and Chesterfield midfielder Conor Dimaio have been called up to the squad.

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