Stephen Kenny confirms four un...


Stephen Kenny confirms four under-21 debutants for Thursday's clash with Armenia

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Republic of Ireland under-21 manager Stephen Kenny has confirmed a number of players are set to make their international debuts at that grade on Thursday afternoon.

Kenny's side are in Yerevan to take on Armenia on Thursday at 12 pm Irish time (4 pm local) in their crucial qualifier match.

There have been a number of withdrawals from the Irish squad ahead of this game - Conor Masterson, Caoimhin Kelleher, Michael Obafemi, Neil Farrugia, and Trevor Clarke are all out. Meanwhile, team captain Jayson Molumby and Lee O'Connor are suspended.

Manager Kenny has told FAI TV that regardless of the absences, his squad are well-equipped to get the required result on Thursday.

"We've got a lot of changes in the squad. I'm very happy with the team though and the squad we've got out here.

"I'm very happy with the personnel in the squad and it shows that we've got a depth of talent at this level. That's credit to all of the under-age coaches who've done fantastic work over the years."

One of the debutants will be between the sticks, in the form of Manchester City's former Shamrock Rovers star Gavin Bazunu.

"Gavin Bazunu, just 17-years of age, will make his debut for the U-21s which is terrific for him" said Kenny today after his side trained at the FFA National Academy earlier this evening.

"We've got a lot of changes in the back-four. Thomas O'Connor will come in and make his debut after his fantastic season so far at Gillingham.

"Danny McNamara, who has been in the squad since September, gets an opportunity and Nathan Collins, of course, who has been terrific at Stoke City so far this season."

Kenny's side beat Armenia at Tallaght Stadium in September and he says he wants a repeat performance in Yerevan.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for the players coming in. They're a fantastic group of players who all want to represent their country.

"We played extremely well against Armenia in Tallaght but Armenia will be a different proposition out here and they had a fantastic victory over Luxembourg in the last round of games.

"We're going into the game with the aim to win, these are our 11th and 12th matches of the year and we want to end this year on a high."

The Republic of Ireland under-21s currently sit top of their qualifying group after the previous Armenia win, along with a win away to Sweden and draw at home to Italy.

A 1-0 reversal against Iceland on October 15th has been the only defeat of their Group A European Championship qualifying campaign so far.

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Danny McNamara FAI Gavin Bazunu Natha Collins Republic Of Ireland Stephen Kenny Thomas O'Connor

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