Wearen relishing Spanish test

Eoin Wearen is two games from UEFA European Under-19 Championship glory after Republic of Ireland reached the tournament's semi-finals.

The unfancied Irish will take on four-times champions Spain in the last-four on Friday, having come through a tough group that also included Czech Republic, Greece and host nation Romania.

Having come this far, the 19-year-old midfielder believes he and his fellow countrymen can go all the way - emulating the achievement of the star-studded side that lifted the European U18 Championship trophy in 1999.

"We are all delighted to have reached the semi-finals - it's a great achievement for such a small country - and we've done it without playing anywhere near our best.

"If you want to win these competitions you need to beat the best and everyone knows how good Spain are, so we know if we can beat them then we have a great chance in the final if we can get there.

"We know they are good going forward and they are quick on the break so we will need to make sure that we are organised and hopefully put them on the back foot."

Wearen made his first appearance at the finals as a substitute in Tuesday's vital goalless draw against Romania - a result that confirmed Ireland as Group A runners-up behind the Czechs.

While the West Ham United youngster would have loved to have played more minutes, he was happy to accept the selections of manager Paul Doolin.

"The manager decided to stick with the same eleven that beat Italy when I was suspended in the Elite Round [after being sent-off against Ukraine] so I have had to be patient and wait to take my chance as I know what I can offer the side.

"Hopefully I will have a big role to play in the semi-final."

Whatever happens against the Spanish, Wearen knows the squad has the backing of the Irish people, with the match being screened live on television back home.

The Dubliner is thankful for the support and determined to repay his friends and family by helping his country to pull off another outstanding success on Friday.

"There are a lot of members from the Irish press staying in our hotel doing regular interviews with the players and informing people back home about what's going on in the camp.

"It's a case of so far so good and we hope we can keep making everyone back home proud."