Northern Ireland’s Under-16 Schoolboys’ team will be playing two friendlies against Poland U16s this week in preparation for the Victory Shield tournament in the autumn.
Team boss Kris Lindsay has chosen a 20-strong squad for the games in the town of Lubliniec in southern Poland.
Game one is tomorrow (Tuesday 23 August) in the Miejski Stadium, with a 5pm start local time, while the second match is at the same venue on Thursday (25 August), with a 10am kick-off local time.
The Victory Shield tournament is due to be hosted by the Football Association of Ireland and staged in Waterford from 30 October until 4 November, with the matches taking place at the Regional Sports Centre and Tramore AFC’s ground in the city.
The U16 Schoolboys international competition is run by the Schools’ Association Football International Board. The shield was presented to SAFIB in 1947 to mark, as suggested by its title, victory by the Allies in World War II.
England have not entered in recent years, so Northern Ireland’s U16s will be facing Wales, Scotland and the Republic in the 2022 tournament.
Northern Ireland have only won the shield twice – in 2000-01 and 2018-19 – since the current version was set up in the 1940s. Scotland and Wales shared the trophy last season.
The Northern Ireland U16 and U18 Schoolboys’ teams are both run by the Irish FA in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Schools’ FA.
U16s manager Lindsay has included seven Linfield players and five Derry City players in his squadfor the trip to Poland, and there’s also representation from Glentoran, Cliftonville, Glenavon,Dungannon Swifts, Ballinamallard United and Bangor-based Castle Juniors plus Manchester United and Rochdale in the panel.
The Northern Ireland U16 Schoolboys’ squad for the games against the Poles is as follows:
Goalkeepers – William Murdock (Manchester United), Joshua Gracey (Glenavon).
Defenders – Conor McVeigh, Calum Moreland, Callum Cowan (all Linfield), Conor Haughey (Glentoran), Caoimhan McDermott (Derry City), Lewis Smyth (Dungannon Swifts).
Midfield –Callum Doherty, Jack Doherty and Fionn Duffy (all Derry City), Cole Brannigan and Dylan Stitt (both Linfield), Oilibhear McCart (Cliftonville), Troy Savage (Castle Juniors).
Forwards – Braiden Graham and Kenzie Beattie (both Linfield), Oscar Kelly (Rochdale), Michael Harkin (Derry City), Sean Corry (Ballinamallard United).