Northern Ireland’s Men’s Under-17s will be aiming to take a first step towards qualification for the 2019 U17 Euros later this week.
Stephen Frail’s squad jetted out to Turkey today to compete in a UEFA U17 mini tournament where they will face Turkey, Slovakia and San Marino.
Their first game in the six-match qualifying round tournament will see them come up against Slovakia at Arslan Zeki Demirci Sports Complex in Antalya Province in southern Turkey on Wednesday (24 October) at 11am.
Matchday Two is on Saturday (27 October) when they face the host nation at the same complex (1430).
And their third and final game will be against San Marino next Tuesday (30 October) at the Arslan Zeki Demirci complex (1230).
Frail’s squad for the Qualifying Group 10 matches is along similar lines to the one that competed at the Nordic Cup in the Faroe Islands back in August.
Although they suffered narrow defeats against Sweden, Denmark and Finland, and registered a win against China, Frail felt they produced some decent performances in that tournament and he also believes it was good preparation for the three Euro qualifiers. Earlier this year the U17s won a development tournament on home soil with victories against Kosovo, Luxembourg and the Faroes.
However, Frail has had to travel to Turkey without two of his recognised strikers. Both Rangers' Christopher McKee and Bury's Aaron Brown have withdrawn from the panel due to injury.
The top two in 13 qualifying groups plus the four third-placed teams with the best records against the leading pair in their section will advance to join top seeds England and Germany in the elite round next March, from which 15 teams will qualify to line up alongside hosts Republic of Ireland in the finals next summer.
The finals will also act as Europe's qualifier for the FIFA U17 World Cup in Peru from October 5 to 27 next year.
The Northern Ireland squad for the three matches in Turkey includes:
David Walsh (Linfield), Nathan Copeland (Ballinamallard United), Jack Scott (Linfield), Euan Deveney (Unattached), Kyle McClelland (Rangers), Sam McClelland (Chelsea), John McGivern (Linfield), Micheal Glynn (Ballinamallard United), Trai Hume (Linfield), Dylan Boyle (Fleetwood Town), Carl Johnston (Fleetwood Town), Peter McKiernan (Cliftonville), Darragh Burns (St Patrick’s Athletic), Barry Crowe-Baggley (Fleetwood Town), Ben Wylie (Celtic), Ross McCausland (Linfield), Charlie Allen (Linfield), Orrin McLaughlin (Foyle Harps), Dale Taylor (Linfield), Gerard Storey (Portadown)
Image: Northern Ireland U17 player Charlie Allen scores for Co Antrim against Manchester United in this year’s SuperCup NI.