Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

19.16 8 May 2019


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Colin O'Brien is 'bitterly disappointed' that he will be without Festy Ebosele for the crucial Group A against Belgium in the UEFA European under-17 Championship.

The Republic of Ireland head coach remains convinced that the referee in the draw against the Czech Republic was 'conned' into giving a second yellow card to the Derby County youth who is suspended along with Conor Carty for tomorrow's final group game.

Czech defender Jan Hellebrand hit the turf hard in the second half after, what looked like, an innocuous coming together with the Irish player who left the field in a rage.

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"We are still bitterly disappointed with what happened in our last game against Czech Republic," O'Brien commented on Wednesday.

"This tournament is meant to be about the development of young players, so surely that means enabling them to play as many games as possible."

"If that is the case then why should a young player suffer because of an opponent cheating and an official being misled? Our player, and our team, suffers because of an injustice."

O'Brien explained why he had initially floated the idea of appealing the referee's decision.

"After the game in Waterford, I was fired up and spoke about appealing the decision. Of course, I knew the rules but what I was referring to was appealing against the Czech player cheating and the referee being conned.

"We have to stand up and fight against this, especially in an elite tournament where the focus should be on developing players for the future. And part of that should be stamping out cheating."

Colin O'Brien insists players are ready for Belgians

The young Boys in Green go into the game at Tallaght Stadium on two points and two behind the table-toppers Belgium.

A draw could be enough to progress, depending on how the other group match goes, but a win would guarantee a knockout place and O'Brien believes the players can overcome the disappointment of the last game.

"Our players have not dwelled on that decision, they have switched their focus to the Belgium game, which we know will be a tough test.

"There is a resilience and togetherness in this group of players, which gives us a great chance of being one of the two teams to make it out of Group A.

"We have had fantastic support in our two games so far and we hope that Tallaght Stadium will be rocking on Thursday night. These players deserve to have a strong support behind them and I'm sure that they will respond by giving it everything in what is a huge game."

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu and midfielder Joe Hodge sat out training on Wednesday as precautions following two games in a week.


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