Evan Ferguson 'should be okay' for Euro playoff in Israel, says Jim Crawford

The highly-rated 17-year-old picked up an ankle knock in the first leg.
Evan Ferguson 'should be okay' for Euro playoff in Israel, says Jim Crawford

BRIGTH OUTLOOK: Ireland U21 boss manager Jim Crawford at the  Sheraton Tel Aviv, HaYarkon, Tel Aviv today.

Republic of Ireland U21s manager Jim Crawford is hoping that Evan Ferguson can overcome a minor injury in time to face Israel in their crucial 2023 European Championship playoff second leg in Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening.

The 17-year old Brighton & Hove Albion prospect scored the equaliser in Friday’s 1-1 first-leg draw in Tallaght and his absence would be a significant blow to the away side as they seek to make history and be the first Irish team to make a finals at the grade.

“He didn’t train yesterday with the group so we are sort of nursing him at the minute but he should be okay,” said Crawford. “He came off the other night because, the shift he put in, he fatigued towards the end but I wasn’t aware he had a knock on his ankle. It’s nothing serious.” Ferguson aside, the visitors will certainly show a handful of changes to the side that drew the opening encounter. Crawford said as much before that tie and repeated his intentions ahead of the return which will be played five days later in temperatures that will come close to 30 degrees.

His counterpart, Guy Lozon, will be thinking similarly. The Israeli boss has already confirmed that three players have been drafted in from the senior side that beat Albania 2-1 in the Nations League on Saturday evening.

Most significant is the availability of Celtic’s Liel Abada who has scored six times in eleven appearances for the Scottish side so far this season. Also returning to the grade are Eden Karzev of Maccabi Netanya and Olympiacos’ Doron Leidner.

“It’s a compliment to our performance on Friday that they went to the senior team to bring in players. Those players they’re bringing in played part of the campaign already so we are aware of them, we had prepared in the build-up to the window with these players in mind.” 

Crawford insisted that the development does not faze the Irish in any way.

“There is absolutely nothing to fear here, as long as we play to our potential. And as much as I thought we played well on Friday, I still believe that we can play better with this group. If we can do that on Tuesday I can’t see any reason why we can’t get that positive result that we need.”

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