Cullen ready to skipper Ireland U21s in key clash

Josh Cullen

Josh Cullen will lead a Hammers midfield pairing when his Republic of Ireland U21 side head to Azerbaijan for their second qualifying game for the 2019 UEFA U21 Championships on Tuesday afternoon.

The Academy star, currently on loan at Championship side Bolton Wanderers, will captain Noel King's Ireland side in Azerbaijan, with fellow Hammer Declan Rice set to make his debut at this age group alongside him.

Cullen already has eight caps for the U21s to his name and has been promoted to captain for this campaign, as Ireland look to qualify for a European Championship finals for the first time.

Their campaign got off to the perfect start in March when they defeated Kosovo 1-0 in Dublin and victory in the 4pm kick-off in Baku could take the Irish top of Group 5, which also includes the likes of Germany and Norway.

Rice has impressed greatly in the Hammers' first team at the start of this season and now steps up after earning six caps at U19 level.

Cullen is looking forward to stepping out alongside his club mate, saying: "Declan could be a key player for us in this campaign.

"He's been in training with the senior squad but is focused on helping our squad get results in this campaign to try qualify for the finals."