Northern Ireland Under-21 squad: Eight Irish League players named to tough Euro qualifying panel
No less than eight Irish League players have been included in the Northern Ireland Under-21 squad for their next double qualification for Euro U21.
Infield’s Cammy Palmer and Trai Hume hold their places, as do Ballymena United forward Ryan Waide, Dungannon Swifts captain Oisin Smyth, Larne defender Kofi Balmer and new Portadown forward Harry Anderson.
Paul O’Neill of Cliftonville – who scored three goals in the last qualifying campaign – returns but teammate Aaron Donnelly gives up.
18-year-old Newry City forward John McGovern is the only league player to have been called up after a brilliant start to the season.
“It’s a huge honor for John and one that is fully deserved,” said Newry boss Darren Mullen. “He has taken his game to another level this season and after talking to John Schofield about his progress, I am delighted to see him become this opportunity.”
Alfie McCalmont, currently on loan at Leeds Morecambe, is back in John Schofield’s panel, moving up from the seniors.
He joins his full international colleagues Sam McClelland and Ethan Galbraith.
Northern Ireland’s upcoming matches are, on paper, the toughest of the entire campaign.
They will face Russia on Friday October 8 in Khimki (kick off 5 p.m. BST) before facing the Spaniards in Seville on Tuesday October 12 (kick off at 7:45 p.m. BST).
Top-seeded Spain opened their qualifying campaign with a 4-1 home win over second-seeded Russia and a 2-0 away win over Lithuania. And the Russians beat Malta 6-0 in Khimki, a town just outside of Moscow.
In contrast, Northern Ireland suffered a disappointing 4-1 defeat to Malta – Paddy Lane on target – in their opener before rebounding to defeat Slovakia 1-0 at home thanks to a penalty from Galbraith.
Northern Ireland U21 squad to face Russia and Spain
Goalkeepers: Liam Hughes (Liverpool), Ollie Webber (Crystal Palace).
Defenders: Aaron Donnelly (Nottingham Forest), Trai Hume (Linfield), Sam McClelland (Chelsea), Kyle McClelland (Rangers), Kofi Balmer (Larne), Finn Cousin-Dawson (Bradford City), Jack Scott (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Midfielder: Ethan Galbraith (Doncaster Rovers – on loan from Manchester United), Alfie McCalmont (Morecambe – on loan from Leeds United), Caolan Boyd-Munce (Birmingham City), Cameron Palmer (Linfield), Oisin Smyth (Dungannon Swifts), Barry Baggley (Town Fleetwood), Chris Conn-Clarke (Town Fleetwood), Carl Johnston (Town Fleetwood), Paddy Lane (Town Fleetwood).
Forwards: Paul O’Neill (Cliftonville), Harry Anderson (Portadown), Ryan Waide (Ballymena United), John McGovern (Newry City).
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