Northern Ireland’s Under-18 Schoolboys have a must-win Centenary Shield game against England in Belfast tomorrow night (25 March).
Frankie Wilson’s side know that only a victory will give them a realistic chance of retaining the trophy.
Although they dominated the game, they lost out 3-2 to Scotland away in their first encounter of the campaign, although they did follow up that setback with a fine 3-0 home win over Wales a few weeks’ back.
Tomorrow night’s match at the revamped Blanchflower Stadium in east Belfast (7.00 start) will be England’s first game in the 2022 edition of the Schools’ Association Football International Board competition featuring the U18 Schoolboy teams of England, Scotland, Wales, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland team boss Wilson said: “I was pleased to get the first win of this Centenary Shield campaign. I thought we were worthy winners against Wales, with some excellent goals.
“I was delighted with the whole team's performance as it really was a combined effort to achieve the win. At 2 -0 we were under sustained threat from Wales but some excellent saves and defending allowed us to get the third and kill the game.
“Every game we play against England is an extremely tough affair. Technically they bring a different game. Their players are all adept on the ball. We have worked hard every Sunday in Magherafelt to try and challenge their gameplan. I am confident this group can put on a show for the home fans.”
Not included in Wilson’s panel this time around are Glentoran winger Aaron Wightman and Coleraine attacker Patrick Kelly, who are currently on international duty with Northern Ireland’s U19s in Spain.
The only other game in the competition to date saw the Republic’s Schoolboys defeat Scotland 2-1 at home. And Northern Ireland’s final game is away to the Republic’s Schoolboys next week (Thursday 31 March). The venue is Buncrana Hearts FC’s ground in Co Donegal.
All of this year’s Centenary Shield games are being shown live across BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport app and connected Red Button.
The Northern Ireland U18 Schoolboys squad for the game against England is as follows:
Goalkeepers - Rian Brown (Ashfield Boys’ High, Belfast/Glentoran), Alex Henderson (North West Regional College/Coleraine).
Defenders - Ryan McKay (Breda Academy, Belfast/Dundela), Ewan McCoubrey (Linfield Academy/Linfield), Lewis Tosh (North West Regional College/Coleraine), Aidan Kelly - captain (St Malachy’s College, Belfast/Cliftonville), Odhran McCart (Larne High/Larne), Jack Patterson (Ballyclare High/Crusaders), Ben Leek (Integrated College Dungannon/Loughgall).
Midfielders - Donal Scullion (St Colman’s College, Newry/Newry City), Shane Haughey (Southern Regional College/Cliftonville), Jack Montgomery (Linfield Academy/Linfield), Max Greer (Larne High School/Larne), Jack McFeely (St Columb’s College, Derry-Londonderry/Coleraine), Caolan Millen (Mercy College Belfast/Crusaders), Joe Curran (St Columb’s College, Limavady United)
Forwards - Luca McGreevey (RBAI, Belfast/Glenavon), Liam McStravick (Edmund Rice College, Glengormley/Cliftonville).