ASTON VILLA DEFENDER Derrick Williams has been called into the Republic of Ireland U21 squad for their must-win UEFA Championship qualifiers against Hungary and Italy.
Ireland meet Hungary in Kecskemét on Thursday and Italy in Casarano on Monday, knowing that they can still claim second place in Group Seven with wins in both games.
Williams gets his first call-up at U21 level after manager Noel King was left without a number of his first-choice players. The 19-year-old, who has been on Aston Villa’s bench recently, can play at both centre-half and left-full.
James Collins, Conor Clifford, Niall Canavan and Sean Scannell all withdrew from the squad for a variety of reasons but King remains confident that he has the players to do the job against Hungary.
Ireland won 2-1 when the sides met in Sligo in August of last year.
“You lose some and gain some. I’m very happy with the players we have here,” said King. “The mood is very good – it’s a very talented group. They seem very focused on getting three points on Thursday.
You’ve never sure what kind of team Hungary will put out and whether they’ll change things around looking towards the next campaign or whatever they’re doing. We have to be prepared for whatever we face.
It’s encouraging to know we’ve beaten them already but it’s a whole new game and we’ll see what we can do.