Ireland primed to take on Belgium in group opener
The Republic of Ireland Under-17s are set for their Uefa European Championship group opener against Belgium at Loughborough University Stadium this evening (kick-off 5.45).
Colin O’Brien’s side go into the tournament as top seeds following an impressive qualification campaign that saw them win six games from six – all away from home.
This is the second year in succession the under-17s have played at the finals, with last year’s quarter-final appearance the best yet since the tournament was regraded in 2000.
O’Brien can call on five players from last year’s edition in Croatia with team captain Nathan Collins, top scorer Adam Idah, Southampton defender Kameron Ledwidge, Wolves midfielder Callum Thompson and Aston Villa’s Tyreik Wright back for a second appearance at the finals.
O’Brien said: “Belgium will be a formidable outfit, they have had a very strong youth development structure and system within their country for the last number of years you can see that in some of the players they have produced.
“They’ll be a very possession based team.”