Republic of Ireland U21s boss Noel King is refusing to up hope on making the UEFA U21 Championships play-offs as his side prepare for a do-or-die clash with Slovenia on Monday evening (5pm).
King's side suffered a 4-1 loss to Group 2 leaders Italy in Waterford on Thursday, but the Irish can get back in the hunt for second spot and an opportunity to reach one of the four play-off spots with a win over the Slovenians in Koper.
The nine group winners qualify automatically and the four runners-up with the best record against the teams that finish first, third, fourth and fifth in their sections advance to the play-offs.
"We're still in with a chance of finishing second," said King. "Slovenia are a very good side and have had some good results themselves and it’s a difficult test but we're going into the game looking to get three points out of it.
"This group was never going to be easy with the quality of teams in it. Slovenia are a very talented side without having the international reputation of a side like Italy but they do cause teams problems.
"It's a game that both sides will feel that they have a chance of winning."
Chesterfield's former U19 international midfielder Connor Dimaio has joined up the squad. Brighton defender Glen Rea was forced out through suspension, while Shamrock Rovers midfielder Brandon Miele was unable to travel and has been replaced by Bray Wanderers winger Dylan Connolly.
Josh Cullen, Alan Browne and Tommie Hoban had all previously been ruled out through injury.
"There's been a couple of enforced changes so there's opportunities there for Dylan Connolly, who has come back in and we know well, and Connor Dimaio who was born in 1996 so he's three more years at this age group. We've four players who are in the group now with three years at this level ahead of them," added King.
The Irish boss was pleased to see the recent progress to senior international level of some of his former U21 squad members Shane Duffy and Eunan O'Kane but insists that he wants to balance the developmental aspect of U21 level with a desire to record victories and ultimately qualify for finals.
"We've had a good success rate of players going on to the senior squad and we'd like to continue that. Development and performance are key to every player and progressing them on is a huge issue that we focus on with every player.
"However, I've never gone into a game just saying we're here to develop players, we also want to develop a winning mentality and you do that by winning.
"The competitive games are a great assessment of how players are progressing so that's important for their development too. It's also important for the country that we do win games and keep seedings up and win whenever we possibly can."
Republic of Ireland U21 squad (v Slovenia): Ian Lawlor (Manchester City – on-loan at Bury), Danny Rogers (Aberdeen – on-loan to Falkirk), Brian Lenihan (Hull City), Jack Connors (Dagenham - on-loan to Borehamwood), Niall Keown (Reading), Sean Hoare (St Patrick’s Athletic), Kevin O’Connor (Cork City), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), Harry Charsley (Everton), Jack Byrne (Manchester City – on-loan to Cambuur), Callum O’Dowda (Oxford United), Conor Wilkinson (Bolton Wanderers – on-loan to Portsmouth), Josh Barrett (Reading), Shane Griffin (Reading), Sean Maguire (Cork City), Sean Long (Reading - on-loan to Braintree Town), Dylan Connolly (Bray Wanderers), Connor Dimaio (Chesterfield)