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Ireland under 21s faced with dilemma – should the senior stars be called upon?

ireland u21 playoff

Jim Crawford has got a really difficult decision on his hands.

Ireland U21s have been presented with a brilliant opportunity to secure top spot in their Euro 2023 qualification group, after Sweden and Italy drew 1-1 in Helsingborg on Thursday evening.

Not only do Ireland have a chance to finish top in the group and qualify automatically, but they are guaranteed a playoff no matter what happens against Italy.

The playoff would be one of the biggest games in the history of Ireland’s under 21s, if it is to happen, which does seem like the most likely outcome, given how strong that Italian team is.

This creates a dilemma for Jim Crawford and his team to come up with – do they take some of the senior players who are eligible for the game to help the u21s get to a major competition?

ireland u21 playoff

Ireland u21 playoff dilemma

It isn’t a straightforward or easy decision to make. For example, you might think it would be a good idea to bring Gavin Bazunu down to start in goal, as he has shown on the senior stage how incredible he is, both for Ireland and Portsmouth.

But that would mean dropping Brian Maher, who has been excellent in goal, and has done great work to help Ireland get to this position in the first place.

Maybe you’d bring down Troy Parrott to show his class, but that would mean dropping some of the brilliant attackers who got Ireland this far. The list goes on.

There are some incredible players that Crawford could use, and it’s a testament to him and his coaching team that they have done so well without them. But his decision will come down to whether or not he feels that he owes his own squad a chance to qualify, without the help of the senior lads.

Realistically, football is a results business. If he brings down three or four senior players and Ireland qualify, it will be seen as a stroke of brilliance. If he does and Ireland lose, he will be told he should have stuck with what he had.

It will be interesting to see what he goes with.

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