REPUBLIC of Ireland U21 Head Coach Noel King has named his squad for next month's UEFA U21 Championships Qualifying Round fixtures against Slovenia and Serbia.
The Irish host Slovenia at Waterford RSC on Friday, September 2 (7.30pm), then travel to Novi Sad for the first of back to back meetings with Serbia on Tuesday, September 6 (5.00pm Irish).
King has been unable to choose from a full complement of options due to injuries to Conor Wilkinson, Niall Keown, Brian Lenihan, Sam Byrne and Ian Lawlor, while Jack Connors is suspended and Callum O'Dowda has been drafted into the senior international squad.
Sean Kavanagh and Darragh Lenihan will miss the Slovenia encounter through suspension but will be available for the encounter in Serbia.
"We've a tough period ahead with these two games and then the visit of Serbia in October. Slovenia are ranked ahead of us and showed over there that they are a good team but what was disappointing from our point of view was the fact that we conceded three goals from set pieces in that game," said King.
"We have to look at that. We will look to correct it and will try to win this game on Friday. There is a lot of emotion around the game with us returning to Waterford for the first time without Milo Corcoran with us following his sad death earlier this week.
"We'll all try to do the best we can for him. He was a man of high standards and will be a huge loss around the staff table and amongst the players, where he was very highly respected."
With qualification no longer in their sights, King and his staff are looking to balance out the transition between seeing out this campaign before turning their eye to the next campaign.
"We're without a number of players but we've brought in some of the players born in 1996 and 1997 such as Olamide Shodipo and Jake Mulraney. We've also added Courtney Duffus from Everton as it's important that we keep an eye on the present and the future at the same time," said King.
The Irish boss is pleased to see the return of defender Tommie Hoban, who has joined Blackburn in a loan move, while the progress of O'Dowda to the senior squad has been another positive.
"We're glad to see Callum go up. Every player here wants to go up to the seniors, it is a part of the job without taking away from every player going out against Slovenia looking to win the game," said the Irish boss.
"Martin O'Neill has been to the games and he hasn't been afraid to include these players. That's one aspect of it.
"Tommie Hoban started his career really well with Watford and has been plagued with various injuries in recent times but he's a terrific character - hopefully he'll get back into top form and stay injury free now. Eoghan O'Connell also comes in after a good spell with Celtic."
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