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Friday 08 Mar 2024
U17s squad for Euro qualifiers elite round named

Northern Ireland U17 coaches Andy Waterworth and Kris Lindsay have brought in three new players for UEFA U17 Euro 2024 elite round qualifiers later this month.

Waterworth and Lindsay have chosen a 20-strong panel for the games against England, France and Hungary.

The three new players are Linfield defender Matty Orr, Larne midfielder James Simpson and Cliftonville attacker Ryan Corrigan.

It’s the first call-up to the U17s for all three players, although they all participated in a training camp last month.

The other 17 members of the squad were involved when the U17s booked their place in the elite round by finishing as one of the best third-placed teams in the qualifying round back in the autumn.

The UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round features 32 teams split into eight groups of four.

The 32 teams will compete for 15 spots alongside hosts Cyprus in the finals from 20 May to 5 June. The eight elite round group winners and seven runners-up with the best records will qualify for the final tournament.

England are top seeds in Group 1 in the elite round, while France are second seeds and Hungary third seeds. The games are being staged at St George’s Park, The FA’s national training centre, later this month.

Northern Ireland’s first game will be against England at SGP on Wednesday 20 March (3pm kick-off), while matchday two sees them take on France at SGP on Saturday 23 March (7pm start). Their final game in the mini tournament is against the Hungarians at the same venue on Tuesday 26 March (7pm).

Northern Ireland progressed to the latter stages of the 2023-2024 competition as one of the five best third-placed teams alongside Norway, Denmark, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the UEFA European Under-17 Championship 2023-24 Qualifying Round, played in October, the U17s competed in a mini tournament against Greece, San Marino and hosts Italy.

After being defeated 2-0 by the Greeks in their opening fixture and then drawing 0-0 with Italy, they registered a fine 4-0 victory against San Marino.

Greece defeated Italy 2-1 to top the table with maximum points, however Italy finished runners-up ahead of Northern Ireland on goal difference – by a single goal.

But Northern Ireland qualified for the elite round as one of the five third-placed teams with the best records against the top two in their section.

The U17s squad for the elite round is as follows:

Goalkeepers – Will Murdock (Manchester United), Owen Grainger (Leeds United).

Defenders – Alex Watson, Callum Leacock and Matty Orr (all Linfield), Keevan Hawthorne (Cliftonville), Conor Haughey (Fleetwood Town), Alfie Friars (Coleraine).

Midfielders – Blaine McClure and Callum Burnside (both Rangers), Jack Doherty (Fleetwood Town), Dylan Stitt (Luton Town), Senan Devine (Coleraine), Troy Savage (Glenavon), James Simpson (Larne).

Forwards – Ceadach O’Neill (pictured in action against Australia earlier this year) and Braiden Graham (both Linfield), Ryan Corrigan (Cliftonville), Cole Brannigan (Aston Villa), Oscar Kelly (Rochdale).