Givens to give Gilmartin 'real' debut

Republic of Ireland Under-21 boss Don Givens will throw 18-year-old Rene Gilmartin into the lion’s den tonight.

Republic of Ireland Under-21 boss Don Givens will throw 18-year-old Rene Gilmartin into the lion’s den tonight.

Gilmartin will start his first game for the Under-21s in the return leg of the European Championships preliminary-round clash against Azerbaijan after a debut which lasted just 20 seconds last week.

Circumstances have conspired in favour of the Walsall youngster, who played just three games for the relegated Saddlers last seasons.

Number one Darren Quigley is suspended after being sent off in the dying moments of last Thursday’s 2-1 first-leg victory in Baku for violent conduct, resulting in Gilmartin’s fleeting bow.

Birmingham’s Colin Doyle requires surgery, while Charlton’s Darren Randolph and Ipswich’s Shane Supple are ahead of Gilmartin in the pecking order for the Under-19s squad who are in Slovakia for the elite phase of the UEFA Championships.

Bringing in Gilmartin will be Givens’ only change to the side for the second leg at Buckley Park in Kilkenny.

“All Rene did last week was kick the ball and then the whistle blew,” recalled Givens.

“It wasn’t much of an outing for him, but now he has his chance and it is up to him to come in and grab it.

“After the result last week, I am quietly confident of progressing, although we know we cannot be too complacent.

“They gave us a hard test. After scoring the opening goal they put us under a lot of pressure and we could easily have gone 2-0 down.

“But we showed a lot of composure and character to fight our way back into the game.

“It’s pleasing when you have players like that.”

Givens will remind his players the tie is far from over, highlighting Huddersfield’s Coca-Cola League One play-off final defeat to Barnsley on Monday as the perfect example.

Leading 1-0 from the first leg at Oakwell, Town then lost the return 3-1 at home – and 3-2 on aggregate.

“I watched that game, as did some of the lads, and I will remind them of it when I speak to them ahead of our game,” added Givens.

“As a squad, we will be doing everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen to us, and that we are totally concentrated on the job.”

With Brentford knocked out of the play-offs by Swansea on Sunday, Jay Tabb has joined the squad, along with Bohemians forward Stephen Ward.

Victory for the Republic will see them qualify for the group stages where Belgium and Greece await.

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