|Jessica Ziu will be part of the Republic of Ireland Women’s Under-19 squad|
|Dave Connell has selected a strong squad as the Republic of Ireland Women’s Under-19s get ready for two international friendly games away to Russia.|
With UEFA European Championship Elite Round qualifiers coming in April, these games act as the perfect opportunity for Connell to assess his options and work on preparing his team for the next set of competitive fixtures.
There are first call-ups for Arsenal’s Alex Fuggle, Leicester City’s Ella McManus and Wilmington Hammerheads’ Emma Bucci, who will be aiming to impress Connell in the two games in Spain.
The trio of Eabha O’Mahony, Jessica Ziu and Emily Whelan are also included having been part of the Ireland Women’s Senior Team squad for their EURO 2021 qualifier against Greece last November.
“These will be two tough games. Russia topped their group in the Qualifying Round and they are exactly the type of opponent that we need because our Elite Round group will be a hard group,” said Connell.
“We have three new players in Alex Fuggle, Ella McManus and Emma Bucci coming in for the first time, plus we have Megan Mackey, Lucia Lobato and Kelly Brady available after they missed the Qualifying Round games last year. So we have six players coming in who we didn’t have before.
“It is massively important to make the most of these games because it is no good playing weaker teams when going into a tough group. We had a camp in Athlone in January but nothing beats testing yourself against quality opposition.
“It will be very tough to qualify considering our group, but having the likes of Emily Whelan & Jessica Ziu available is a plus for us considering they were recently involved with the Senior Team. By no means does this squad selection suggest that the players not involved are out of my thinking; this is just an opportunity to look at these 20 players and it’s up to them to impress.”
Once they complete these two fixtures against Russia, the focus for Ireland will immediately switch to their Elite Round games against Austria (April 8), England (April 11), and Czech Republic (April 14).
If they can finish top of Group 7 in those three games in Czech Republic then they will have secured qualification for this summer’s finals tournament in Georgia.
Republic of Ireland Women’s Under-19 Squad
Goalkeepers: Rachael Kelly (Shelbourne), Maria O’Sullivan (Cork City)
Defenders: Eabha O’Mahony (Cork City), Roisin McGovern (DLR Waves), Lucia Lobato (University of Akron), Zara Foley (Cork City), Alex Fuggle (Arsenal), Emma Bucci (Wilmington Hammerheads)
Blessing Kingsley (Wexford Youths), Megan Mackey (Havard University), Jessica Ziu (Shelbourne), Kayleigh Shine (Athlone Town), Niamh Reynolds (Reading), Rebecca Cooke (Shelbourne), Aoife Slattery (Wexford Youths)
Forwards: Isabel Atkinson (Shelbourne), Alannah McEvoy (Peamount United), Kelly Brady (World Class), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Ella McManus (Leicester City)
Republic of Ireland v Russia
Saturday, March 7
Estadio Burgos Quintana
Republic of Ireland v Russia
Tuesday, March 10
Dama de Noche, Marbella