17-year-old goalie Bazunu among four players confirmed for Ireland U21 debuts

17-year-old goalie Bazunu among four players confirmed for Ireland U21 debuts

Manchester City goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu will make his Ireland U21 debut in Thursday's European Championship qualifier against Armenia.

The 17-year-old will be joined in making his debut by three defenders, Gillingham's Thomas O'Connor, Newport County's Danny McNamara, and Stoke's Nathan Collins.

Manager Stephen Kenny says there could be eight changes to his team from the loss to Iceland after a series of withdrawls, including Conor Masterson, Caoimhin Kelleher, Michael Obafemi, Neil Farrugia, and Trevor Clarke, while captain Jayson Molumby and Lee O'Connor are suspended.

As well as the suspended O’Connor, Mark Travers, Troy Parrott, and Aaron Connolly, who has since been ruled out with a groin injury, are included in Mick McCarthy's senior squad.

"We've got a lot of changes in the squad. I'm very happy with the team though and the squad we've got out here," Kenny told FAI TV.

"I'm very happy with the personnel in the squad and it shows that we've got a depth of talent at this level. That's credit to all of the under-age coaches who've done fantastic work over the years.

"Gavin Bazunu, just 17 years of age, will make his debut for the U-21s which is terrific for him. We've got a lot of changes in the back-four. Thomas O'Connor will come in and make his debut after his fantastic season so far at Gillingham.

"Danny McNamara, who has been in the squad since September, gets an opportunity and Nathan Collins, of course, who has been terrific at Stoke City so far this season."

Despite the loss to Iceland, Ireland remain a point ahead on top of Group 1, albeit with more games played than their qualification rivals.

Kenny sees the trip to Armenia as a chance for his new-look squad to make an impression before Tuesday's game at home to Sweden.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for the players coming in. They're a fantastic group of players who all want to represent their country.

"We played extremely well against Armenia in Tallaght but Armenia will be a different proposition out here and they had a fantastic victory over Luxembourg in the last round of games.

"We're going into the game with the aim to win, these are our 11th and 12th matches of the year and we want to end this year on a high."

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