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Nathan Collins Says Ireland U21s Ready To Make History Despite Key Absentees

Nathan Collins Says Ireland U21s Ready To Make History Despite Key Absentees
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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The Ireland U21 squad head into Sunday's game against Iceland knowing that a victory puts them on the verge of making history.

No Irish team has qualified for the European Championships at that level previously, with the U21s often an overlooked part in the hierarchy of our national teams. That changed under Stephen Kenny, with the standards imposed during his time with the group carried into the Jim Crawford era.

A win over Iceland followed by victory over group minnows Luxembourg should be enough to secure a place in next year's finals in Hungary and Slovenia.

That makes this weekend's clash in Tallaght Stadium a huge game, something that has not been lost on the players involved.

Speaking ahead of the fixture, defender Nathan Collins said that this up there with the biggest games he has been involved with for Ireland. The Stoke City man only made his debut at U21 level midway through the campaign, but admitted the quality in this group makes it much easier to fit in.

I'd say it's up there to be fair. Even Italy you could say was a massive game as well. Whatever game we play in now, or previous to that, is a massive game.

We need to win, there's no difference in any of the games. We need to win, we need three points. That's all that matters at the end of the day...

It's a lot easier. Luckily for me, whatever age group I've been in we've had a good team that looked to succeed as well, but it is really helpful.

We just want to keep going, kick on and keep winning. That's all we want to do.


Collins has been a mainstay in Ireland underage teams over the past five years or so, representing the country at every level from U15 onwards. That includes two appearances at the U17 European Championships, so he is a player who is familiar with the feeling of playing in key games for his country.


The 19-year was in and out of the Stoke City team last season, making 14 appearances in the Championship. He looks set to play a bigger part in this campaign, appearing in four games thus far and missing out on most of the others due to injury.

Collins will also play a larger role for Ireland over these final two games, partly down to Dara O'Shea's promotion to the senior team. The likes of Jayson Molumby, Adam Idah, and Caoimhin Kelleher are also unavailable thank to their involvement with Stephen Kenny's squad.

However, the Leixlip native believes that the absence of key players does not have a huge impact on this group.


It does and it doesn't. We've got such a good squad here that whoever comes in can do the exact same job. That's what's really good about this team. The togetherness of this team is really good as well.

I'm happy for the lads who go up there, but we still have our own objective and what we want to do. The players know that if they are coming what their job is.

All eyes will be on Tallaght Stadium on Sunday, with the game kicking off at 12.30pm.


SEE ALSO: Iceland Defeat Leaves Ireland U21s In Fantastic Position To Qualify For Euros


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