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McHue lays down a challenge

Caretaker Ireland Under-21s boss Harry McCue has challenged his team to prove themselves all over again after their mauling by Germany.

Ireland take on Romania in a European Championship qualifier double-header in Piatra Neamt on Friday and Sligo on Tuesday, looking to bounce back from their 4-0 home defeat by the Germans last month.

McCue, standing in for Noel King after he was asked to take interim charge of the senior team for their World Cup qualifiers against Germany and Kazakhstan, said: "We have had a couple of chats with the lads and the feeling amongst them all was that we hadn't performed in the Germany game and they want to put things right.

"We know we are a better team than we showed in that game.

"Romania are on one point and we are on three points, and we definitely want that gap to be still there for the second game in Sligo on Tuesday afternoon.

"The Romanians have brought in a lot of new players and changed their squad, so I'm sure they will be fired up to get a result tomorrow. We're expecting a tough test."

Group 6 leaders Germany and second-placed Montenegro both boast unbeaten records after two games each, while Ireland's defeat by the Germans followed a 4-1 win in the Faroe Islands.

They head into the game without the suspended Samir Carruthers following his sending-off against the Germans, although he will be available for Tuesday's game.

However, Jack Grealish is out with an ankle injury and Michael Harriman with a calf problem, and they have been replaced by Bradford's Carl McHugh and Preston's Will Hayhurst.

McCue said: "We had a very long journey to get to Romania, but after a couple of days everybody has settled in."

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