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UEFA European U21 Championships Qualifier Preview: Republic of Ireland -v- Armenia

Fri, Sep 06 2019

Zack Elbouzedi of Waterfordin action in the opening group win over Luxembourg. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND U21

Stephen Kenny’s Republic of Ireland welcome Armenia to Tallaght Stadium as they resume their Euro 2021 qualifying campaign (kick-off 8pm).

The incumbent senior boss will be forced to make changes from the opening-day victory over Luxembourg, which saw Ireland get off the mark with a comfortable 3-0 win.

Neil Farrugia and Connor Ronan are both injured from the side that started that day, while Zack Elbouzedi has played very little since dislocating his shoulder in Toulon.

“I think it’s getting the balance right in the team that’s very important,” said Kenny.

“The three players in the team in March against Luxembourg as the attacking midfield players were Neil Farrugia and Connor Ronan and they’re both out injured.

“And then Zack Elbouzedi has hardly played because he dislocated his shoulder in Toulon and had a hamstring strain at Waterford coming back.

"It could be a different three there trying to form relationships and connections but that’s the nature of it.

“The back four has been very consistent, that’s been a big help, only one goal in five games conceded, outside of Brazil because we conceded two against Brazil.

“Caoimhín Kelleher and the back four have been very consistent. We have good competition in midfield.”

In addition to Ronan and Farrugia, Michael Obafemi and Nathan Collins have been ruled out, with Simon Power and Kameron Ledwidge called up in their stead.

ARMENIA U21

Armenia kick their qualifying campaign off with the trip to west Dublin, their first visit since beating Don Givens’ side 2-1 in 2010.

Then a side containing future Irish captain Seamus Coleman, David Meyler and Alan Judge were outsmarted by a talented visiting side.

Armenia finished fourth of a group containing Switzerland and Turkey, while Ireland slid to a humiliating bottom-placed finish behind Estonia.

The current squad haven’t won a competitive game in almost two years, and finished fourth in qualifying for the 2019 Euros.

A 1-0 win over Moldova in their most recent friendly in June has given them some momentum ahead of the current campaign, however.

Referee: Fyodor Zammit (Malta)

MATCH STATS

Armenia and Ireland last met at under-21 level in qualifying for the 2011 European Championships.

A side containing future Armenian internationals like Edgar Malakyan won 2-1 in Tallaght having already won 4-1 win on home soil.

BETTING

Republic of Ireland U21 1/4; Draw 7/2; Armenia U21 13/2.

PREDICTION

Republic of Ireland U21 3 – 0 Armenia U21

Republic of Ireland U21

Injured: Nathan Collins, Neil Farrugia, Michael Obafemi, Connor Ronan.

Doubtful: Zack Elbouzedi.

Suspended: None.

Armenia U21

Injured: Unavailable.

Doubtful: Unavailable.

Suspended: Unavailable.