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Conlan hoping Northern Ireland Under-21s can step up to seal elusive victory

By Graham Luney

Northern Ireland Under-21s will go in search of their first victory in a Group Three Euro qualifier in Ukraine today (5.30pm).

Jim Magilton's side sit bottom of the table without a victory after eight games, their solitary point coming from a 1-1 draw in Iceland.

Ukraine have won three of their eight battles in a group which is topped by Macedonia with France a point behind.

The French will be at Windsor Park on Tuesday, making it a difficult double-header for our boys, but defender Luke Conlan, who is at Morecambe, is relishing the challenge.

"You are playing against the best young players in the world at your age group so it's always an exciting challenge and a real test," said the Portaferry man.

"It's always great when you are selected to play for your country and it's also a shop window for the players as clubs across the water can identify talent.

"Results-wise our campaign has not been good but we have been on top early in matches and we need to manage games better and grind out results. It's a learning process for us and it's important we are better in possession. When the chances come our way we must take them as well."

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Under-19 side are in Poland for the Euro qualifiers which kick-off today.

Stephen Frail's boys are participating in a four-team mini-tournament which will pit them against Slovakia, Macedonia and the hosts. They begin today against Slovakia, then two days later face Macedonia before finishing their qualifiers against Poland on Tuesday.

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