King looking to develop U21 squad

King looking to develop U21 squad

Noel King will send his Republic of Ireland Under-21s side into friendly battle with Norway with one eye on the next qualifying campaign.

The Ireland squad has undergone significant change since the nation’s hopes of making it to next summer’s European Championship finals in the Czech Republic were dashed earlier this year.

However, having seen his new-look team draw 1-1 with the Qatar Olympic squad in May before losing 2-0 to Germany in their final qualifier, the manager is looking to Thursday night’s game in Drammen to lay the foundations for the resumption of competitive action.

King said: “Norway finished third in the World Under-20s twice and also third in UEFA Under-21s Championships so we know it’ll be tough. They have traditionally been physical and direct but we’ll have to adjust to whatever way they play.

“For all of us, staff and players, it’s still a case of getting to know each other. They will learn what we’re looking for as staff while for us we are continuing to learn about their attributes and their versatility.

“It’s all about developing as a group and working out how we can tie it all together to be a competitive force.”

The Republic launched their Group Six campaign in promising fashion, but quickly slipped off the pace as the unbeaten Germans ran away with the group, leaving the Ireland camp to analyse an ultimately disappointing outcome.

King said: “We’ve been very good in recruiting players and winning games but we want to go on and challenge to qualify.

“We always start to struggle when players move on to the next level and are longer available to you, but that’s probably the case with all Under-21s teams.

“Football is strange in that pinpointing exactly why you don’t qualify can be difficult, but there are always little things that could have gone your way that would have made the difference.

“Over the years we would be stronger at producing defenders than forwards, so I suppose that attacking area is one where we’ll be looking for somebody to make their mark.”

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