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17th Mar 2018

Michael Obafemi included in latest Republic of Ireland U19 squad for Euro qualifiers triple-header

Matthew Gault

Michael Obafemi

Michael Obafemi has been named in the squad.

Southampton striker Michael Obafemi has been included in Republic of Ireland U19 manager Tom Mohan’s squad for the upcoming triple-header of UEFA European Championship Elite Round qualifiers.

There has been speculation recently that Obafemi, the 17-year-old Dublin-born forward, may declare for Nigeria, but continuing to represent Ireland is certainly an encouraging indication of where he believes his future may lie.

Ireland take on Slovakia, Kosovo and Portugal having claimed seven points from their opening three games.

Mohan is without Brighton midfielder Jayson Molumby and UCD forward Neil Farrugia through injury, while Shamrock Rovers’ Aaron Bolger is serving a three-match suspension.

“All three players are big losses, but the door opens for other players to come and take the opportunity. It’s a great chance for new players coming into the squad,” Mohan said.

Although Obafemi, who made his Premier League debut for Southampton earlier this season, is still wanted by Nigeria and possibly England, the important thing is that he remains involved with Ireland until there is an update on his future.

It may be a year or two before he breaks through into senior club football and it remains to be seen if he will be given further chances in the Saints’ first-team squad following Mauricio Pellegrino’s dismissal.

Mark Hughes, Pellegrino’s successor, would have been impressed if he was watching the club’s U23 side’s clash with Norwich City this week, with Obafemi opening the scoring after just 13 seconds.

Mohan knows his side will be tested in Portugal, particularly against Slovakia and Kosovo.

“Slovakia and Kosovo only lost one game between them in the Qualifying Round. Slovakia topped a group that included Turkey. Kosovo is new to international football and showed how strong they are by reaching the Elite Round at the first time.

“Portugal were the European champions two years ago at Under-17s. They will be the favourites in the group. I’ve been very happy with our preparations though.”

Republic of Ireland U19 squad

Goalkeepers: Brian Maher (St Patrick’s Athletic), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth)Defenders: Canice Carroll (Oxford United), Jordan Doherty (Sheffield United), James Finnerty (Aston Villa), Lee O’Connor (Manchester United), Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion – on loan at Hereford), Tyreke Wilson (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Kian Flanagan (Crystal Palace), Stephen Mallon (Sheffield United), Daniel McKenna (Wolverhampton Wanderers – on loan at Bray Wanderers), Callum Nicell (Leeds United), Thomas O’Connor (Southampton), Rian O’Sullivan (Brighton & Hove Albion), Rowan Roache (Blackpool)

Forwards: Jonathan Afolabi (Southampton), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Aaron Dobbs (Shamrock Rovers – on loan at Wexford), Michael Obafemi (Southampton)

Fixtures – UEFA European Under-19 Championship Elite Round Group 5

Wednesday, March 21: Slovakia v Republic of Ireland, Primeiro de Maio, Braga, 3pm
Saturday, March 24: Republic of Ireland v Kosovo, Estádio dos Arcos, Vila do Conde, 3pm
Tuesday, March 27: Republic of Ireland v Portugal, Estádio Cidade de Barcelos, Barcelos, 5pm

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