Republic of Ireland Under-21 international, Ronan Hale has described today’s UEFA U21 European Championships qualifier against Israel as ‘a must win’.
Noel King’s side are in Akko, Israel ahead of the qualifier at the Akko Municipal, with kick-off at 3pm (5pm local time).
Ireland go into their penultimate qualifier in third position in Group Five, level on points with second-placed Norway knowing they must win against Israel to keep any qualifying chances alive ahead of the final qualifier of the campaign in Germany.
"We know what we have to do, it’s a must win and that’s got to be the focus,” said 20-year-old Hale who joins his former Derry City teammate, Ronan Curtis in the squad.
“We’ve done really well to get ourselves into this position and we need to keep it up until the very last game. It’s going to be tough as they’re different conditions to what we’re used to but we can be confident.
“The lads are brilliant and we’re in good shape. Training has been at a really high standard and we beat them earlier in the campaign so we’re positive.”
Hale has scored 13 goals in all competitions this season for the Candy Stripes, including a winning goal in the club’s UEFA Europa League qualifier second leg tie against Dinamo Minsk in Belarus, and he believes his loan move has helped him in his development.
“It’s been massive for me. It’s probably the reason I’m standing here and part of the squad,” Hale commented.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. I felt it was really important to get the loan move away from Birmingham to play senior football and I think I’ve got better as a result.
“I want to keep getting better so that I can continue to play international football. There is a lot more I can do for the U21s and the dream is obviously to progress to the senior level.”
Republic of Ireland U21 squad v Israel/Germany: Goalkeepers: Kieran O’Hara (Manchester United, loan Macclesfield Town), Liam Bossin (Nottingham Forest).
Defenders: Danny Kane (Cork City, loan AFC Flyde), Corey Whelan (Liverpool, loan Crewe Alexandra), Ryan Sweeney (Stoke City, loan Mansfield Town), Ryan Delaney (Rochdale), Jimmy Dunne (Burnley, loan Hearts), Sean McLaughlin (Cork City), Shaun Donnellan (Yeovil Town).
Midfielders: Josh Cullen (West Ham United, loan Charlton Athletic), Harry Charsley (Everton), Liam Kinsella (Walsall), Jordan Shipley (Coventry City), Jamie McGrath (Dundalk).
Attackers: Reece Grego-Cox (Crawley Town), Ronan Hale (Birmingham City, loan Derry City), Joe Quigley (Maidstone United), Jake Mulraney (Hearts), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth).