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Teenage striker Ferguson to make first Republic start



Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Wednesday, 22 March Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live text commentary and match report on the BBC Sport website

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has confirmed that teenager Evan Ferguson will make his first senior international start in Wednesday’s friendly game against Latvia in Dublin.

Kenny is impressed with the form of the 18-year-old Brighton striker.

“His career is in its infancy but he’s made a great start in the Premier League and scored some goals in the PL, FA Cup and League Cup,” said Kenny.

“At 18 years of age he has shown that he’s ready to come into the team.”

Ferguson made his international debut in November, coming off the bench late in the defeat to Norway, while he also gained more minutes three days later in a 1-0 win over Malta.

He has scored seven goals in 20 games in his maiden season with Brighton, including two in his club’s 5-0 victory over Grimsby Town in their FA Cup quarter-final.

The Republic of Ireland boss added: “We’ve known about Evan for a few years now coming through the system in Ireland with Bohemians and through the underage international teams.

“He’ll make his first start tomorrow night.”

Wednesday night’s friendly at the Aviva Stadium is followed by the Republic’s opening Euro 2024 qualifier against France, winners of the 2016 European Championship, at the same venue on Monday.

France are set to be captained by Paris St Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, who has been named skipper by boss Didier Dechamps to succeed Hugo Lloris.

Kenny added: “The most important thing is the game against France on Monday, that’s the most important part of the week.

“We have a number of players who have not been playing regularly or who have been playing intermittently so I think Wednesday’s game is important for those players, and for us to evaluate where they all are.

“They can put themselves in contention for selection against France next Monday whether that will be as starters or players who can make an impact off the bench because we’ll need a squad next Monday against France.

“It’s our ambition to win the game. Latvia’s ranking is low but they have had some very good results. Drawing 3-3 with Turkey, 0-0 with Norway, beating Lithuania 3-1, 1-0 with Holland, they have shown the capacity to put in some good performances.”

One player who will not feature against the Latvians is Norwich City striker Adam Idah, who is still making his way back to full fitness after injury,

Idah is the only doubt in the squad at the moment, although Kenny remains hopeful that he will still be in contention to play a role against France.

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