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Thursday 27 May 2021
Northern Ireland U17s to play England and Wales as part of training camp

Northern Ireland’s Under-17 men’s team are set to play both England U17s and Wales U17s during a training camp in England next week.

Gerard Lyttle’s side are scheduled to play Wales U17s at St George’s Park, the FA’s national training centre, on Tuesday (1 June).

And next Thursday (3 June) Lyttle will be giving all the players in his 23-strong panel game time when he picks two teams to play England U17 A and B sides at SGP.

The training camp, which will be based at the Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire, and the matches will help Lyttle and his staff to assess U17 squad players ahead of Euro qualifiers in the autumn. 

The bulk of the squad play for NIFL Premiership clubs, although three of the players are with League of Ireland clubs (Derry City pair Darragh McCloskey and Luca Doherty plus Dundalk striker Ethan Sousa) and goalkeepers Pierce Charles and Kai McLean are on the books of Manchester City and Celtic respectively.

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 matches against England and Wales next week includes:

Goalkeepers – Matthew Williamson (Linfield), Kai McLean (Celtic), Pierce Charles (Manchester City).

Defenders – Reece Jordan (Portadown), Ruairi McConville (Linfield), Darragh McCloskey (Derry City), Kielan Reid (Linfield), Lewis Loughlin (Ballinamallard United), Daniel Farrelly (Portadown), Sean Brown and Brendan Hamilton (both Glentoran).

Midfielders – Bobby Higgins (Linfield), Jack Patterson, Joel Thompson and Bradley Maguire (all Crusaders), Caolan Donnelly (Cliftonville). 

Forwards – Luca Doherty (Derry City), Ethan Sousa (Dundalk), Shea Brennan (Crusaders), Leon Boyd (Linfield), Sam Glenfield (Portadown), Jack Berry and Jaydyn Withers (both Cliftonville).