Aaron Connolly out of Ireland’s clash with Luxembourg

Brighton forward has returned to his club after being ruled out with a foot injury

Aaron Connolly is out of Saturday’s World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg at the Aviva Stadium, with the 21-year-old having returned to Brighton after picking up a foot injury in Wednesday’s loss to Serbia.

James Collins and Shane Long will be among those in the reckoning to replace the Galwayman after having come on and made a positive impact in Belgrade and though he missed out even on the matchday squad there, Stephen Kenny suggested after training on Friday that Troy Parrott will also be among the options he weighs up before settling on his starting 11 on Saturday.

The manager declined to give anything away about the selection at his pre-match press conference and refused to say whether he would stick with Mark Travers, the 21-year-old goalkeeper who endured a challenging competitive debut.

“It’s not my intention to give the team away and give any advantage to the opposition,” said Kenny, who had confirmed Travers would start the opening game of the campaign six days beforehand as he named his squad.


“I thought it was a really good performance the other day. We will get a lot of confidence from it. We showed great composure in possession, a really good understating of the tactics… the players used the width of the pitch well. They were sharp and incisive.

“They scored three goals from sort of four chances, we wouldn’t be pleased about that, but overall, I thought it was a great display and one that the players can take confidence from going into this game now.”

As for the tactics, Kenny didn’t rule out a change for the system employed against the Serbs but seemed to suggest he would persist with something along the same lines.

“You can’t ignore that possibility (of a change),” he said. “The way you achieve success is generally through continuity but you also have to adapt depending on the players you have available and the opposition you face. We played 3-4-1-2 against Serbia (and) playing against a 3-4-3 system, it made a lot of sense.”

Despite the loss, Kenny insists that the mood around the camp is relaxed with everyone benefitting, he says, from the fact that coronavirus has not been a factor so far around these games.

“The atmosphere and the morale is very, very good. It’s different from the other camps, probably because we haven’t had Covid influencing this camp,” he says. “We have always lost players and it was in the infancy of Covid, in September and October, people weren’t sure of the impact of it and the impact of it on their families. There was that uncertainty and it decimated our camp.

“This feels different; morale is very good and relaxed. They played well the other night and were disappointed to lose. We want to put in that level of performance but win tomorrow, that has to be the objective.”