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Stephen Robinson urges his young gems to catch the eye


Top talent: Reece McGinley is one for the future.

Top talent: Reece McGinley is one for the future.

©Russell Pritchard / Milk Cup

Top talent: Reece McGinley is one for the future.

Stephen Robinson is challenging Northern Ireland's next generation of young talent to look beyond their first experience of international football to what they can achieve. Robinson leads the under-16s for the first time tonight when they kick-off this season's Victory Shield campaign against Scotland at St Mirren Park (7pm).

Already this season Robinson has guided the under-17s into the Elite round of the European Championship qualifiers and he wants that to be the short-term target for the boys who will face the Scots this evening, with the ultimate goal of full international honours.

"I remember playing in the Victory Shield myself. My stand-out memory is losing to England at Hillsborough in the ninth minute of injury time, but it is the first taste of international football that players get and it's an important step in their careers," said Robinson.

"This is my first year taking this group and we want to make an impact with decent performances - the results will hopefully follow.

"We are building towards the under-17 European Championship with this group and playing in that should be the aim of every player in the squad."

Robinson has included 14-yar-old Reece McGinley in his squad. He is already at Liverpool and is a shining example of what young players can achieve.

"Reece McGinley is a year young for this age group, but he is a player that we feel can make the step up," said Robinson.

"He has also been identified by Liverpool at their school in Belfast and taken across at 14. We're delighted for him because he can get the full-time coaching over there that we can't offer.

"We are going up against Scotland who have their boys 16 hours a week. We have ours for six hours - and that's treble what they were doing before."

NORTHERN IRELAND SQUAD: Connor Larkin (Drumcree College/Armagh City), Matty Davidson (Campbell College/Linfield), Cormac Lawlor (St Malachy's, Belfast/Cliftonville), Conal Fagan (St Colum's College/Oxford United Stars), Jack White (Newtownbreda High School/Glentoran), Lucas Gallashan (Boy's Model/Glentoran), Liam McKenna (De La Salle/Oliver Plunkett), Chris Crane (Corpus Christi/Linfield), Chris Gallagher (De La Salle/Linfield), Matt Lynch (De La Salle/Glenavon), Dylan Davidson (Hazelwood College/Cliftonville), Stephen Mallon (CBS/Oliver Plunkett), Tre Stirling (Boy's Model/Glentoran), Niall Cassidy (St Malachy's, Castlewellan/Armagh), Jack Sharvin (St Colmcille's/Linfield), Alex Carolan (Deele College/Maiden City), Dave Parkhouse (St Joseph's/Maiden City), Reece McGinley (Rainhill High School/Liverpool).

Belfast Telegraph