Republic of Ireland U19 boss Tom Mohan has named his squad for the upcoming UEFA European Championship Elite Round qualifiers.
The team travels to the northwest of Portugal next week to play in Group 5 against Slovakia, Kosovo and thei hosts.
In the Qualifying Round, Ireland claimed seven points from a possible nine, with wins over Cyprus and Serbia and a draw against Azerbaijan.
Three of the stars from those clashes miss out on the trip to Portugal through a mixture of injury and suspension. Brighton midfielder Jayson Molumby (knee) and forward Neil Farrugia (shoulder) are ruled out along with Shamrock Rovers ace Aaron Bolger, who will serve a three-match suspension.
Mohan feels the absence of the three players will be a blow, but that it also gives an opportunity to others to impress.
"All three players are big losses, but the door opens for other players to come and take the opportunity. It’s a great chance for new players coming into the squad," he said.
With only the group winners advancing to the 2018 UEFA European U19 Championship in Finland this summer, Mohan knows his side will be tested in Portugal.
"Slovakia and Kosovo only lost one game between them in the Qualifying Round. Slovakia topped a group that included Turkey. Kosovo is new to international football and showed how strong they are by reaching the Elite Round at the first time.
"Portugal were the European champions two years ago at Under-17s. They will be the favourites in the group. I’ve been very happy with our preparations though."
Five of the squad were part of last year’s 2017 UEFA European U17 Championship, and Mohan has been delighted with the work being done by head coach Jim Crawford with the U18s.
"It’s a real positive to have a look at the U18s and to see their progress. We have eight U18 players in the squad this year. It creates competition. That’s crucial if you want to be competitive and to qualify from a difficult group".
Republic of Ireland U19 squad
Goalkeepers: Brian Maher (St Patrick’s Athletic), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth)Defenders: Canice Carroll (Oxford United), Jordan Doherty (Sheffield United), James Finnerty (Aston Villa), Lee O’Connor (Manchester United), Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion - on loan at Hereford), Tyreke Wilson (Manchester City)
Midfielders: Conor Coventry (West Ham United), Kian Flanagan (Crystal Palace), Stephen Mallon (Sheffield United), Daniel McKenna (Wolverhampton Wanderers - on loan at Bray Wanderers), Callum Nicell (Leeds United), Thomas O’Connor (Southampton), Rian O’Sullivan (Brighton & Hove Albion), Rowan Roache (Blackpool)
Forwards: Jonathan Afolabi (Southampton), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Aaron Dobbs (Shamrock Rovers - on loan at Wexford), Michael Obafemi (Southampton)
Fixtures - UEFA European Under-19 Championship Elite Round Group 5
Wednesday, March 21: Slovakia v Republic of Ireland, Primeiro de Maio, Braga, 3pm
Saturday, March 24: Republic of Ireland v Kosovo, Estádio dos Arcos, Vila do Conde, 3pm
Tuesday, March 27: Republic of Ireland v Portugal, Estádio Cidade de Barcelos, Barcelos, 5pm