Will Smallbone: There is a real togetherness in this group

Smallbone and his fellow Irish under 21s take on Israel on the 23rd of next month. 
Will Smallbone: There is a real togetherness in this group

IN IT TOGETHER: Republic of Ireland's Will Smallbone takes a free kick during the UEFA European U21 Championship 2023 Qualifying stage. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire.

Ireland under-21 midfielder Will Smallbone has delved into the "togetherness" that exists within Jim Crawford's international squad. 

Smallbone - who has joined Championship outfit Stoke City on loan from Southampton this term - said that there is a camaraderie in the group and that it has helped them reach the heights they have in recent times. 

On pushing the Italians for automatic qualification for the U21 European Championships, Smallbone said: " I think that it's a good sign of our mentality, that we wanted to be pushing Italy all the way, and I think we did.

"I think there's a real togetherness in this group, everyone looks forward to going away with Ireland and looks forward to playing the games and I think, once you get that winning bond together, then it can't really be broken."

Ahead of their crunch Euro play-off against Israel next month, the Championship star is hoping to see Irish fans turning out to in their numbers support them on their mission to qualify for a major tournament.

"The fans can help us so much I think, to see a packed out Tallaght Stadium would be unbelievable, and I think that could be the edge that we need to go through."

Smallbone, having got Premier League minutes under his belt at the tail end of last season with parent-club Southampton, was a man in high demand at the start of the 2022/23 campaign. 

Having temporarily joined Stoke, and subsequently hit the ground running at the club, Rotherham boss Paul Warne has admitted that he tried "desperately" to get the midfielder to join his ranks. 

"We desperately tried to get Will Smallbone from Southampton and they were really convinced and wanted him to come here," Warne told the Yorkshire Post.

"But his agent and himself decided to go to Stoke and I am not sure if he has played there much or not, but it is the player's choice."

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