Kofi Balmer and Michael O'Connor have both been called into their respective Under-21 squads (c) Presseye


Seven players from NI Football League clubs have been selected for Under-21 international duty for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland later this month.

Northern Ireland Under-21 Manager Ian Barraclough has selected six of his 20 man squad directly from the Danske Bank Premiership and Bluefin Sport Championship, rewarding some of the talented young players in the division for their performances this season.

Goalkeepers Declan Dunne (Portadown) and Jared Thompson (Warrenpoint Town) are joined by Glentoran duo Nathan Kerr and Chris Gallagher.

Northern Ireland Under-19 captain Kofi Balmer (Ballymena United) is given his first call up at this level and is joined by midfielder Kyle McLean who has spent the second half of the season on loan at Linfield from St. Johnstone.

The Marbella Football Centre in Spain will host a friendly against Bulgaria Under-21’s on Friday 22 March (kick-off: 1pm) and followed by a second game against Mexico Under-21’s on Monday 25 March at the Estadio Municipal de Marbella (kick-off: 7pm).

Meanwhile, new Republic of Ireland Under-21 boss Stephen Kenny has selected Linfield forward Michael O’Connor in his 23-man squad for their international friendly against Luxembourg Under-21’s at Tallaght on 24 March (kick-off: 5pm).

Full Northern Ireland Under-21 squad

Goalkeepers – Declan Dunne (Portadown, on loan from Cliftonville), Jared Thompson (Warrenpoint Town, on loan from Chelsea).

Defenders – Eoin Toal (Derry City), Pierce Bird (Notts County), Kofi Balmer (Ballymena United), Daniel Finlayson (Rangers), Bobby Burns (Hearts), Danny Amos (Hartlepool, on loan from Doncaster Rovers), Nathan Kerr (Glentoran).

Midfielders – Alfie McCalmont (Leeds United), Jake Dunwoody (Stoke City), Kyle McClean (Linfield, on loan from St Johnstone), Cameron Palmer (Rangers), Ethan Galbraith (Manchester United), Liam Coyle (Liverpool), Caolan Boyd-Munce (Birmingham City).

Forwards – Shayne Lavery (Falkirk, on loan from Everton), David Parkhouse (Derry City, on loan from Sheffield United), Josh Kelly (Maidenhead United), Chris Gallagher (Glentoran).