Waterford starlets named in Ireland U21 soccer squad
Two rising Waterford soccer stars have been named in the Republic of Ireland U-21 squad for the upcoming UEFA European Championships qualifiers against Armenia and Sweden.
Manager Stephen Kenny named the 22-player squad on Wednesday with Waterford native and Manchester United starlet Lee O'Connor and Waterford FC winger Zack Elbouzedi making the grade.
Southampton striker Michael Obafemi has received his first call-up to the U-21 squad as well as Stoke City defender Nathan Collins and Tottenham Hotspur forward Troy Parrott.
AFC Bournemouth midfielder Gavin Kilkenny has also received his first call-up to the squad as well as defender Danny McNamara, who is currently on loan at Newport County from Championship side Millwall.
After his impressive performances for Ireland U-19s in the UEFA European Championships finals in the summer, striker Jonathan Afolabi, who has recently joined Scottish Champions Celtic, comes into the U-21 squad for the first time.
SSE Airtricity League side Bohemians sees two players called up as Dan Mandroiu returns to the squad following his impressive performances for Keith Long's side, and Darragh Leahy.
Connor Ronan, who is currently on loan at Slovakian side Dunajská Streda from Wolverhampton Wanderers, has been ruled out of the squad through injury.
Stephen Kenny's side faces two crucial qualifiers as they welcome Armenia to Tallaght Stadium on Friday, September 6, with kick-off at 8pm, before they travel to Kalmar to face Sweden on Tuesday, September 10, with kick-off at 5.30pm (6.30pm local time).
Tickets for the match against Armenia are on general sale via Ticketmaster. Tickets are priced at €5 for adults, €2 for students/OAPs and FREE for U-16 and FAI & Shamrock Rovers Season Ticket Holders.
Republic of Ireland U-21 Squad
Goalkeepers: Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City)
Defenders: Danny McNamara (Newport County, on loan from Millwall), Lee O'Connor (Manchester United), Dara O'Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Conor Masterson (QPR), Darragh Leahy (Bohemians), Nathan Collins (Stoke City), Liam Scales (UCD AFC)
Centre Midfielders: Jayson Molumby (Millwall, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Jason Knight (Derby County), Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Jake Doyle-Hayes (Cheltenham Town, on loan from Aston Villa).
Attacking Midfielders: Jack Taylor (Barnet), Dan Mandroiu (Bohemians), Gavin Kilkenny (AFC Bournemouth), Zack Elbouzedi (Waterford).
Forwards: Adam Idah (Norwich City), Jonathan Afolabi (Celtic), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Michael Obafemi (Southampton), Troy Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur).