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Biting Back: Northern Ireland's next generation of internationals are not treated as equals

By Stuart McKinley

Northern Ireland's under-21s will try to keep the good times rolling for sports fans here when they play Serbia today.

You didn't know it was on? Funny that. It was only yesterday that the Irish FA's publicity machine clicked round far enough to give the game some publicity.

It's part of a football writer's job to know when these matches are, but I fear only diehard fans will have been aware of the game.

It's at Shamrock Park in case you fancy going along. Oh, and it starts at 4pm.

You're working? Ah well. You see, that's the other thing the kick-off time is nothing short of ridiculous too.

Who's in the squad? Well, until I made enquiries yesterday I didn't know myself as it was never actually announced.

The players knew over a fortnight ago though. Linfield announced on August 22 that their game against Crusaders last weekend would be postponed because Aaron Burns and Kirk Millar had both been selected.

Not everyone is on Twitter, but one post via the social network and one story on the IFA website – both yesterday – is all the publicity there has been on the under-21 game.

Sadly our next generation of internationals are not treated as equals when – if information was more forthcoming – there might be more than just friends and family of the players in the stands.

The sports minister has already fired a shot across the IFA's bows by saying that the women's international team should have parity of esteem.

They play away to Poland on Saturday and against the Faroe Islands at Mourneview Park next Tuesday, just in case you didn't know.

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