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The future starts now as Magilton places his faith in youth for Under 21s qualifying dates

By Adam McKendry

Published 02/09/2016

Joel Cooper
Joel Cooper

Northern Ireland Under-21s boss Jim Magilton has named a youthful side for their European Championship qualifier against Iceland at Mourneview Park tonight (7pm).

Magilton's men are bottom of qualifying Group C with just a point having drawn one and lost five of their six games so far.

Ironically, that stalemate came against tonight's opponents after a goal from Ryan Johnson handed them a share of the spoils when the teams met in Reykjavik last September.

Iceland are currently second in the group, two points off leaders France but with a game in hand and know that a win in Lurgan would put them in an excellent position to qualify for the finals tournament in Poland next summer.

With Northern Ireland already guaranteed to finish outside the qualifying places, Magilton has opted to call up several younger faces for the game, and for Tuesday's meeting with Macedonia, as he aims to build for the future.

Among the new call-ups is Plymouth Argyle striker Louis Rooney, who has been pushing for first team honours with the League Two side recently.

17-year-old Everton striker Shayne Lavery has also been named in the squad having impressed for his new club and also at Under-17 and Under-19 level for Northern Ireland.

There will be plenty of Irish League talent on show as Magilton has named seven Danske Bank Premiership players in the 23-man squad for the two games.

Tonight's hosts Glenavon are most represented with three players - Joel Cooper, Rhys Marshall and Mark Sykes - while Linfield have two representatives and Cliftonville and Crusaders one each.

Belfast Telegraph

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