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Coleraine duo have earned place in Northern Ireland's U21 squad, says Baraclough

By Graham Luney

Coleraine starlets Ciaron Harkin and Jamie McGonigle have been included in Ian Baraclough's Northern Ireland Under-21 squad for a training camp ahead of their opening Euro qualifier against Estonia.

Midfielder Harkin, who joined the Bannsiders from Institute in January, and striker McGonigle made huge contributions as Oran Kearney's side secured a third-place finish in the Danske Bank Premiership, netting them a Europa League qualifying clash.

Coleraine also progressed to the Tennent's Irish Cup final where they lost 3-0 to Linfield, but the performances of Harkin and McGonigle have earned them international calls.

Baraclough said: "Those boys have been playing regularly, playing for three points and I will be encouraging players to be playing whether at their clubs or on loan.

"First-team football is crucial for development and these boys have been doing it. I watched the Tennent's Irish Cup final and these two boys were excellent and deserve their call-up."

The Bannsiders duo are joined in the panel by Crusaders ace Gavin Whyte and Linfield striker Paul Smyth, who scooped the Young Player of the Year accolades. Baraclough's squad of 24 will be trimmed down to 20 and another fresh face in the set-up is Stoke City midfielder Jake Dunwoody.

Under-21 training camp squad: Goalkeepers: Conor Mitchell, Conor Hazard. Defenders: Cameron Dummigan, Liam Donnelly, Conor McDermott, Ryan Johnson, Ben Hill, Jamal Lewis, Dylan King, Joe Crowe. Midfielders: Dale Gorman, Mark McKee, Shea Gordon, Ciaron Harkin, Gavin Whyte, Rory Holden, Jake Dunwoody; Forwards: Paul Smyth, Jamie McDonagh, Jamie McGonigle, Louis Rooney, David Parkhouse, Mikhail Kennedy, Kyle McClean.

Meanwhile, striker Shay McCartan has spoken of his delight at being called up to the Northern Ireland training squad ahead of the team's forthcoming matches against New Zealand (June 2) and Azerbaijan (June 10).

The Accrington Stanley player said: "I'm just trying to do what I've been doing at Accrington - taking players on and just enjoying it really. I'm just trying to impress Michael (O'Neill) and the main thing is enjoying it.

"Michael just told me during the first few days don't be nervous, just do what you've been doing."

O'Neill will announce his final squad on Monday.

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