Young midfielder Mark Hughes admits it is a big blow that the Football Association of his native Northern Ireland are no longer able to enter an under-21 team into qualification tournaments.
The tenacious middleman, who has attracted rave reviews from David Pleat for his recent performances, says the decision - taken for financial reasons - will deny the current crop of what was looking a realistic chance of qualifying for the 2006 European Championships.
"We were told after our last game that they haven't really got the funds to continue in the qualifiers because it costs something in the region of £300,000," reported Mark. "The way the money situation is, we won't be able to play in the qualifying tournaments any more.
"I think we'll go ahead with friendly games whenever the seniors have games.
"It was a shock because we've got a young team and have just won our last two games. The majority of us would have been able to play in the next qualification and we felt we were in with a chance. It's going to be weird next year.
"In recent times a lot of us have been moving up into the full squad. There is a lot at Premiership clubs and taking away the under-21s might hamper us a bit. It is harsh financial reality and hopefully something will be sorted out in the long run," he added, before saying that he will have to catch the eye of the incoming senior team manager in order to sample competitive international football.
"Definitely, there are a few of the lads who have made that step and I want to do it next year."
Meanwhile, Mark reports that he is enjoying working with new reserve coach Clive Allen following the departure of Colin Calderwood to Northampton.
"It was a big shock about Colin. I was away in Greece with the under-21s and when I heard it was a shock. When you think about it though, Colin is definitely good enough to make it and it was only a matter of time before he took the step up.
"It's pretty good now and Clive has been great. We've done quite well in our last two games with Chrissie and Clive and we're just looking forward to our next game now."
Mark does admit, however, that he does not have much of a recollection of Clive Allen the player...
"Not really no, Masters football is the only time I've seen him play!"