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U17s want full Monte

By Stuart McKinley

Victory over European debutants Montenegro this afternoon will see the Northern Ireland under-17 side qualify for the Elite qualifying stages for the sixth year in a row.

After beating Moldova 3-0 in Monday's opening game another win against the former Yugoslavian state will see Kenny Shiels side go into Saturday's final game against mini-tournament hosts Belgium with their place in the next phase already secured.

Shiels has an excellent record with the youngest of the Irish FA's international squads and they reached the finals of the European Championship in 2004.

"It was a very pleasing opening, especially for the players," said Shiels.

"It will do their confidence no harm whatsoever, the defence kept a clean sheet and the attack scored three goals.

"As a whole unit we took a great deal of positive information from our preparation games and it was just what the team deserved in terms of the result."

Shiels is hoping to be able to make full use of his squad in the mini-tournament and if qualification is secured today then the seven players who were on the bench on Monday will at least get the chance to start a game against the Belgians on Saturday if they don't make the team today.

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