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Friday 10 Nov 2023
Gareth McAuley names U19s squad for Euros prep tournament

Northern Ireland men’s Under-19 team boss Gareth McAuley has named his squad for the upcoming games against Portugal, Czechia and Hungary.

The U19s are set to play the three nations in a preparation tournament ahead of the UEFA Men’s Under-19 European Championship 2024, which is being hosted by the Irish FA.

Northern Ireland’s three matches in the four-team prep tournament are all being staged at Inver Park, home of Larne FC.

First up they will face Hungary next Wednesday (15 November) followed by a game against the Czechs on Saturday 18 November. Their final game is against Portugal on Tuesday 21 November. All three games at Inver Park will kick off at 7pm.

Northern Ireland’s first preparation game for next year’s eight-team U19 Euro final tournament took place in September when they narrowly lost 3-2 to Italy in Tuscany.Most of the 19-strong squad who faced the Italians have been retained for the upcoming prep tournament.

However, McAuley has brought in five new faces in midfield trio Jack Doherty (Fleetwood Town), Blaine McClure (Rangers) and Corey Smith (Larne) plus strikers Kieran Morrison (Liverpool) and Sam Glenfield (Fleetwood Town). All five have previously played for Northern Ireland at either U16, U17 or U18 level.

Missing out this time are strikers Leon Boyd and Rhys Walsh (both Glentoran) as well as Everton midfielder Jack Patterson.

As hosts Northern Ireland will qualify directly for the U19 Euros next summer, hence the Irish FA is staging the preparation tournament this month.

The qualifiers for next year’s event are already under way. Four of the 13 four-team groups in the qualifying round are complete, with the remainder of the mini tournaments being staged from 15 to 21 November.

The top two teams in each group will then join top seeds Portugal in the spring 2024 elite round along with the third-placed team with the best record against the top two in their section.

Czechia booked their place in the elite round alongside Portugal by topping a qualifying round group (Group 10) that also featured Romania, Finland and San Marino.

Hungary finished third in their group (Group 2) in the first round. They were pipped to second spot by Latvia on goals scored as Norway won all three of their games to win the group.

The three other games in the upcoming tournament are all being staged at Seaview.

Czechia will take on Portugal in north Belfast at 3pm next Wednesday, while Portugal and Hungary are scheduled to meet there on Saturday week (7.45pm start) and Hungary and Czechia will face each other at the home of Crusaders FC on Tuesday 21 November (7pm).

It’s free entry to all the games in the prep tournament.

Northern Ireland U19 squad:

Goalkeepers – Pierce Charles (Sheffield Wednesday), Mason Munn (Rangers).

Defenders – Ruairi McConville (Brighton and Hove Albion), George Goodman (Bradford City), Gallagher Lennon (St Mirren), Tom Atcheson (Blackburn Rovers), Josh Briggs (West Ham United), Sean Brown (Larne), Brendan Hamilton (Aberdeen), Joel Thompson (Nottingham Forest), Phoenix Scholtz (MK Dons).

Midfielders – Rio Morgan (Ipswich Town), Lewis Trickett (Accrington Stanley), Ryan Donnelly (Leicester City), Francis Turley (Celtic), Jack Doherty (Fleetwood Town), Blaine McClure (Rangers), Corey Smith (Larne).

Forwards – Kieran Morrison (Liverpool), Devlan Moses (Sheffield Wednesday), Reece Evans (Leicester City), Sam Glenfield (Fleetwood Town).