REPUBLIC of Ireland U21 boss, Noel King believes Derry City’s Hale brothers have taken their game onto the next level by playing regular football in the League of Ireland top flight.
The former Derry City manager is set to select his squad for the upcoming international double-header against surprise packages, Kosovo and Group E leaders Germany in the coming days.
In-form, ex-Derry City striker, Ronan Curtis is expected to maintain his place in the team while Ronan and Rory Hale should also be involved for the crunch European U21 Championship qualifiers.
King was an interested spectator in the Mark Farren Stand at Brandywell Stadium for Derry’s FAI Cup second round clash with St Patrick’s Athletic last Friday night and was impressed with what he saw from the Belfast brothers.
“Playing senior football every week is very important for them and for their development,” said the Ireland boss.
“They’re coming up against top teams around the country. They’ve come from underage football and it takes time to adjust. Ronan is a prolific goalscorer and Rory is a terrific goal-maker,” he added. “In the last two games we’ve had Ronan was responsible for the goal when he got a header, put it onto the post and we finished it for the winner.
They’re great lads to have around the place. They have that winning mentality so hopefully they continue to make an impact for us.Noel King
“Whereas Rory played against Iceland and in the first minute scored a great goal. They both have had an influence with the U21s. They both have terrific qualities and you just hope they continue to develop and keep going.”
Former Aston Villa man, Rory has been one of the stand-out performers for Derry City this season, scoring the winning goal against Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds last month which sent the Candy Stripes in to the EA Sports Cup decider.
And Birmingham City loanee, Ronan has also made a significant impression for the Brandywell club this season, scoring his first senior hat-trick in the 5-0 win over Limerick back in March and netting the winning goal in Derry’s magnificent UEFA Europa League second leg result against Dinamo Minsk in Belarus.
While King refused to give anything away regarding his team selection for the trip to Kosovo on Friday week, he did indicate that he won’t make too many changes to the squad which defeated Azerbaijan last March.
“They both are very enthusiastic and come from a great family. They’re great lads to have around the place. They have that winning mentality so hopefully they continue to make an impact for us. We’re in a great position,” he continued. “We haven’t made too many changes to our line-ups but as these competitions go on it totally depends on the depth of your squad and everyone must play their roles.
“I get around to as many clubs and games as I can. I try visit every stadium and look at every player who qualifies. I go to lots of games in England too and it’s great to see these players who want to play for their country and give everything they have. We’re willing to give everyone a chance to prove that.”
Ireland are sitting second behind Germany going into the Kosovo match and King is hoping for a positive result before meeting the Germans in Dublin the following Tuesday.
“They’ve beaten Norway 3-2 and drew with Germany. We beat them 1-0 in Dublin and it’s a massive test. The rewards if we win that game puts us top of the table and then we would have Germany in Dublin. It’s a very difficult game. It’s a passionate atmosphere. I wouldn’t say it’s intimidating but it’s something we wouldn’t have experienced before against us.”