Local players named for Portugal friendlies

TALLAGHT’S Katie McCabe and Peamount United pair Amber Barrett and Heather Payne have both been included in the Republic of Ireland Senior women’s squad for two international friendlies against Portugal on January 18 and 21.

The games in the Azures will be part of Colin’s Bell side’s preparation for the resumption of their, so far, superb 2019 FIFA World Cup qualification quest.

Peamount V UCD 09

Victories over Slovakia and Northern Ireland, combined with a tremendous draw against European champions, the Netherlands, leaves the team unbeaten on this front as they gear up their big return matches against Slovakia and the Dutch in Tallaght Stadium in April.

Under captain McCabe, Ireland has enjoyed a brilliant run that has seen the side climb to 29th position in the latest FIFA World rankings.

Looking ahead to the double header against the Portuguese, Bell said "We're delighted to be able to arrange these two friendlies against high-quality opposition such as Portugal.

"They qualified for the European Championships last summer and beat Ireland to a qualification spot in the last campaign so it'll be a great test for us as we look to continue to improve in the New Year.

"We've had a fantastic year and our rise in the FIFA World Rankings is a great indication of the progression we've made in 2017.

“The draw against the Netherlands was a great way to end the year, but we must now look to achieve new levels in 2018.

"The games will be a good chance to play some of the younger members of the squad as well. We've had a lot of young players come into the squad in recent months and it’s important to get those players the game-time they need to progress” he added.

While the team will not be playing in the Cyprus Cup this year, they will engage in an intensive training camp at Fota Island Resort, starting in late February.

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