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Three Real Madrid players among Spain's Under 21 squad to face Northern Ireland


By Adam McKendry

While Northern Ireland's under-21s can boast exciting young Irish League talent such as Gavin Whyte, Mark Sykes and Jamie McGonigle, they're a long way from the glamour of Spain's squad.

Albert Celades' La Rojita squad contains three Real Madrid youth stars and one from Barcelona, while only one player on the 21-man roster does not have La Liga experience.

But, of course, the stand out names are those of the Real Madrid trio: centre-back Jesus Vallejo, midfielder and captain Dani Ceballos and striker Borja Mayoral.

All three have seen plenty of game time this season under Zinedine Zidane and they have drawn rave reviews for their performances.

Indeed, Ceballos is impressing so much that he's drawing interest from the likes of Liverpool and AC Milan ahead of the summer transfer window, while Mayoral has a keen eye in front of goal and is putting pressure on veteran stars Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale for a starting place.

Other notable names include the only Barca representative, left back Aaron Martin, while winger Adama Traore and midfielder Mikel Merino both have Premier League experience with Middlesbrough and Newcastle respectively.

SPAIN UNDER-21 SQUAD TO FACE NORTHERN IRELAND: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), Juan Soriano (Sevilla), Antonio Sivera (Alaves), Jesus Vallejo (Real Madrid), Jorge Mere (FC Koln), Unai Nunez (Athletic Bilbao), Pablo Maffeo (Girona), Aaron Martín (Barcelona), Adama Traoré (Middlesbrough), Mikel Merino (Newcastle United), Aleix Garcia (Girona), Fabian Ruiz (Real Betis), Carlos Soler (Valencia), Francis (Real Betis), Toni Lato (Valencia), Ínigo Córdoba (Athletic Bilbao), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Pablo Fornals (Villareal), Dani Ceballos (Real Madrid), Borja Mayoral (Real Madrid), Carlos Fernandez (Sevilla).

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