Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager Jim Crawford insists he is unconcerned by the argument over whether Andrew Moran should have been promoted to the senior side last week.

RTÉ Soccer analyst Didi Hamann said it was "inexcusable" Kenny called up Moran when the U21s had a crucial Euro 2025 qualifier against Norway.

Moran was an unused substitute in the senior game with the Netherlands.

Crawford's side were narrowly beaten 3-2 in Drammen.

Speaking at a pre-match press conference before another vital game with Italy in Turner's Cross on Tuesday, the Ireland U21 boss said: "That's Didi's perspective on things.

"A player of Andy Moran's ability, he's always going to be there or thereabouts with the senior team.

"We knew that in the last window when he was called up for the senior team and unfortunately he got injured.

"Straight away when we came into camp for this particular window, we knew that there was a lot of players awaiting scan results with the senior team.

"In one way you're hoping that he stays but for the player himself, and I broke the news to him, he was certainly overjoyed.

"To lose anybody of Andy's quality, any team would feel it, but the bigger picture is it gives players at U21s level an opportunity to show that they can play at this stage.

"It also gives Andy a chance to bed himself into the senior team and I've no doubt he'll play against New Zealand.

"I'm not picking the team, that's Stephen’s job, but I certainly think he'll gain his first international cap.

"He's been excellent but as soon as Andy was gone, as ruthless as it sounds, he's gone from us. We need to concentrate, we got Adam Murphy in, and we need to get our heads down."

Sinclair Armstrong made his senior debut against the Netherlands

The loss in Norway was the first setback of the group for Ireland and they now face the most formidable side in the group.

Crawford could have the likes of Moran, Andrew Omobamidele, Troy Parrott, Festy Ebosele only for their necessity in the senior group.

However the current crop have shown great potential, with Sinclair Armstrong and Aidomo Emahku forming a solid partnership up front.

There were individual mistakes which cost Ireland, with the energetic Matt Healy giving away a penalty and set-piece concession costing Ireland.

Crawford added: "The whole thing of 21s football is you're preparing players for senior international games.

"Look, we were prepared and I think that was somewhat justified in the performance against Norway.

"Okay, the result wasn't what we wanted. Conceding two goals from set plays, one of them second phase, the other giving away a penalty, certainly isn't ideal, and the third one was us switching off in our press fairly high up the pitch.

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"The players involved in those instances were disappointed but we're here to help them and hopefully they learn from that. That is, in essence, the 21s. You help them grow as players and as individuals.

"Ultimately, what you want to do is qualify for finals because that's the ultimate experience for any player and that's where you get a lot of learning."

Crawford is excited about the prospect of facing Italy despite the setback.

"Tomorrow is a huge game for us," he admitted.

"The lads aren't feeling sorry for themselves. They understood that was an opportunity of gaining a point, or possibly even three away from home against a really good Norway team. It should instil some confidence in them that we are a match for anyone in this group.

"That’s what tomorrow will be, another test against the red-hot favourites of the group. It gives us a chance to go toe-to-toe with them compared to these players who are playing in Serie A and Serie B."

Kick-off is at the earlier time of 5.30pm.

Watch Republic of Ireland Under-21 v Italy Under-21 in Euro 2025 qualifying on Tuesday from 5pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player and follow a live blog on and the RTÉ News app

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