Crawford values the “12th man” in Ireland U21 quest

By Stephen Leonard

REPUBLIC of Ireland Under 21 assistant coach, Jim Crawford believes a sellout crown in Tallaght Stadium has the potential to be that “12th man” that could  help see the team maintain the perfect start to their UEFA 2021 European Championship qualifica-tion campaign when they welcome Group One top seeds Italy to Tallaght Stadium on Thursday, October 10.

The team which will then face Iceland away five days later, currently tops the pool following victories over Luxembourg, Armenia and Sweden.

Jim Crawford Ireland U21s compressor

Ireland Under 21 assistant coach Jim Crawford insists that the sell-out crowd in Tallaght Stadium can act like a “12th man” for the team in their upcoming crunch UEFA 2021 European Championship clash with top seeds Italy next week

“The Italians are the top seeds and will be expected to go through” said Crawford. “They have a lot of top players who play in the Serie A and the likes of Moise Kean with Everton.

“It’s a jump up again for us from the Sweden game so hopefully a sellout crowd in Tallaght Stadium can really get behind the team and be that ‘12th man’ for us.

“The public has really bought into this group of players and rightly so. We have fantastic players in this squad.

“It’ll be great to get younger kids who are playing the game to get a look at this group of players and hopefully be inspired by them. We want kids to leave Tallaght Stadium on Thursday, October 10 inspired.

“Iceland will be a totally different game. It’s an away game and has a 3pm kick-off so there will be a different feel to it.

“Iceland are an athletic and functional team that will pose a totally different set of problems for us, but we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s a big test and I think that after this window coming up we’ll have a really good understanding of where we are in this group” he said.

Indeed Stephen Kenny’s side really turned heads in their last outing against the highly-fancied Swedes, battling back from a goal down to win 3-1.

 “To go to Sweden to play a really good Swedish side that has players playing first team football in Serie A and the Swedish First Division and put on such a convincing display was great” said Crawford.

“I’ve been involved in underage international soccer for many years now and that for me was one of the top performances by any group of players that I’ve worked with.

“In a game where we didn’t start too well we asked the players to dig deep and they responded fantastically.

“The confidence is high, the morale is high and that all stems from the leadership of Stephen Kenny, but also the quality of players we have at our disposal” he added.

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