Ronan Hale will head into the Republic of Ireland's penultimate European Under-21 Championship qualifier in Israel knowing victory is the only option.

The 20-year-old and his team-mates face the Israelis at the Akko Municipal Stadium on Thursday before a final-game showdown with Group 5 leaders Germany on Tuesday evening, with their qualification hopes in the balance.

Hale, currently on loan at Derry City from Birmingham, told the FAI's official website: "We know what we have to do. It's a must-win and that's got to be the focus.

"We've done really well to get ourselves into this position and we need to keep it up until the very last game. It's going to be tough as they're different conditions to what we're used to, but we can be confident.

"The lads are brilliant and we're in good shape. Training has been at a really high standard and we beat them earlier in the campaign, so we're positive."

Ireland slipped to third place in the group as a result of last month's 6-0 drubbing by Germany at Tallaght Stadium, four days after Ronan Curtis' late equaliser in Kosovo had kept them on track.

They will run out in Israel level on 14 points with second-placed Norway and five behind the Germans, and they know a win in Akko is essential if they are to travel to Heidenheim on Tuesday with any chance of making it to next summer's finals in Italy and San Marino.

Portsmouth striker Curtis, like Mansfield defender Ryan Sweeney, is back after sitting out the Germany game through suspension, a ban which saw him drafted into Martin O'Neill's senior squad for the friendly in Poland, while Coventry winger Jordan Shipley has been included for the first time.

However, midfielder Ryan Manning will miss both games after picking up an injury playing for loan club Rotherham at the weekend.