Football/Soccer

Republic of Ireland U21s begin European U21 Championship preparations with Marbella series

Republic of Ireland striker Jonathan Afolabi celebrates scoring their side's second goal of the game during the Under 21 international friendly against Wales in March
Andy Watters

THE Republic of Ireland U21s begin their preparation for the European U21 Championship qualifiers when they take on Switzerland U21, Australia's Olympic football team and Denmark U21 in a series of friendlies in Marbella, Spain.

Ireland will travel to Spain on Thursday, May 27 and face Switzerland on Sunday, May 30. They then take on Australia on Wednesday, June 2 before ending the series of games with an evening fixture against Denmark team on Saturday, June 5.

The three-game international window forms part of Manager Jim Crawford's preparations for the European U21 Championship qualifiers which begin for the Boys in Green in September against Bosnia & Herzegovina on September 3.

Manager Jim Crawford said: “We were determined to get a number of games in the June international window for the players to have the best possible preparation for our qualifiers.

“It is excellent news that this has been confirmed, all three teams present exciting and challenging opposition to our team and myself and the staff can't wait to get back with the players to test ourselves against this standard of opposition.”

Crawford has spoken previously about the importance of having a run of games in the summer international window to build squad cohesion.

He added: “I saw how the Toulon Tournament in 2019 gave a lot of the players involved in the U21s a platform for their club form and the confidence to go play at this level.

“Having these games in Marbella gives us an opportunity to give a talented group match minutes and a chance to come together over 10 days, work hard, work on our style of play and get ready for September.”

All games will be behind closed doors with no admittance from the public.

International friendly fixtures at Dama de Noche Football Centre, Marbella, Spain

May 30 (11am): Switzerland v Republic of Ireland; June 2 (11am): Australia v Republic of Ireland; June 5: Republic of Ireland v Denmark (5pm)

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Football/Soccer