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Tuesday 27 Jul 2021
Lyttle chooses 24-strong panel for Northern Ireland U17s training camp

Northern Ireland’s Under-17 men’s team boss Gerard Lyttle has rung the changes in his squad for a training camp next week.

Lyttle has invited eight new faces into the group, although he has extended the size of the panel since a previous camp back in May/June.

Among those coming in to the 24-strong squad are Portadown goalkeeper Rian Brown, Peterborough United full-back Bayley McCann and two other defenders, Daithi McCallion (Derry City) and Odhran McCart (Larne).

Ipswich Town midfielder Rio Morgan and Derry City midfielder Conal McCarrigle also get their first call-ups along with Derby County striker Omari Kellyman and Tottenham Hotspur forward Jamie Donley.

Back in early June the U17s defeated Wales U16s/U17s and lost to England’s U17s during a camp in England.

That camp marked the start of preparations for a UEFA Under-17 Euros preliminary round and next week’s camp based at Templepatrick and Greenmount in Co Antrim will continue those preparations.

U17s captain Ruairi McConville, who signed for Brighton and Hove Albion from Linfield earlier this summer, is out of the squad on this occasion due to injury.

Also missing out this time are Matthew Williamson (Linfield), Lewis Loughlin (Ballinamallard United), Daniel Farrelly (Portadown), Bobby Higgins (Linfield), Bradley Maguire (Crusaders),Jack Berry and Jaydyn Withers (both Cliftonville).

Next week’s camp will be a last hurrah for goalkeeping coach Roy Carroll, who was appointed as coach to the U19s and U17s stoppers by Lyttle earlier this year but has just been appointed goalkeeping coach for the senior men’s team.

“Roy deserves the opportunity to go to the seniors. It’s fantastic for him. Naturally, we will be sorry to see him go as he’s a great coach,” said the U17s manager, who also looks after the U19s.

He also welcomed another one of his U19/U17 coaches, Andy Waterworth, being appointed as the new head of the Irish FA JD Academy in collaboration with UEFA last month.

“It’s a really exciting appointment. The Irish FA has got an individual who eats, drinks and sleeps developmental football in this country,” he pointed out.

“He is very passionate about his work. The next generation of kids coming through will be in great hands.” 

The U17s manager has been frustrated in his efforts to get the squad playing matches. They were due to go to both the Nordic Cup and take part in a mini tournament in England this summer but both were cancelled. 

During next week’s camp though they will be playing two friendlies – against the Northern Ireland U16 Schoolboys squad and Larne U20s. 

In the UEFA Under-17 Euros preliminary round this autumn the boys in green and white will face Italy, Scotland and Albania (Group 12). And Northern Ireland will be hosting the mini tournament from 27 October to 2 November, although match venues have still to be finalised.

The top two teams in 13 qualifying groups will join top seeds Netherlands and Spain in the spring 2022 elite round along with the four third-placed teams with the best records against the top two in their section.

From there 15 teams will qualify to join hosts Israel at the UEFA U17 European Championship finals in May 2022.

The Northern Ireland U17s squad for the August training camp includes: 

Goalkeepers – Rian Brown (Portadown), Kai McLean (Celtic), Pierce Charles (Sheffield Wednesday).

Defenders – Reece Jordan (Portadown), Darragh McCloskey (Derry City), Kielan Reid (Linfield), Daithi McCallion (Derry City), Odhran McCart (Larne),Sean Brown (Larne), Brendan Hamilton (Glentoran), Bayley McCann (Peterborough United). 

Midfielders – Jack Patterson and Joel Thompson (both Crusaders), Caolan Donnelly (Larne), Conal McGarrigle (Derry City), Rio Morgan (Ipswich Town). 

Forwards – Luca Doherty (Derry City), Ethan Sousa (Dundalk), Shea Brennan (Larne), Omari Kellyman (Derby County), Leon Boyd (Linfield), Sam Glenfield (Portadown), Corey Smith (Dungannon Swifts), Jamie Donley (Tottenham Hotspur).