Ireland to play Hungary and Andorra as part of Spanish training camp in June
Stephen Kenny wants to use time to integrate new players and work on system of play
Stephen Kenny will hold a nine-day training camp in Spain in June that will include friendly games against hungary and Andorra. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/AFP via Getty Images
The Republic of Ireland will take on Hungary and Andorra in friendlies in June as part of a nine-day training camp in Spain where Stephen Kenny will get the opportunity to spend more time with his squad on the training ground in preparation for the latter part of the World Cup qualifying campaign.
With Qatar to come first on Tuesday in Debrecen, Kenny could clearly do with a win to end the current international window on a brighter note but the 49-year-old says he sees the summer games and the time around them as an important opportunity.
“We wanted to go to Spain for nine days in June, which we are, to work on the whole collective way we want to play and integrate all the new players we have brought in,” he said on Monday afternoon. “We wanted to ramp that up with friendlies against Andorra and Hungary that will take us into September but the big letdown has been losing to Luxembourg.
“It’s not the Luxembourg of old and we can’t be disrespectful but our expectation is that we should be beating them at home. We didn’t and you have to expect criticism for that.”
Matt Doherty and Enda Stevens are both injured and out of the Qatar game but Kenny declined to say whether the absence of his two first-choice wing backs would prompt a move away from the system used in the opening two qualifying group games, both of which have been lost.
“It’s certainly a possibility,” he said, “but we have other options in that regard. Cyrus Christie, Ryan Manning of course, and James McClean who is just back from injury and came on in the last two games.
“We played 3-4-1-2 against Serbia and thought it worked brilliantly,” he continued. “I thought it was one of the best displays by an Irish team away from home in recent years. We played very well, but narrowly lost the game. We made one or two mistakes and got punished in the end which I was disappointed with but I thought the overall display was excellent.
“Against Luxembourg, we have dominated a lot of possession but in the final third . . . We had a lot of situations where it was four v three, situations where we could overload and maximise the situation in the final third and we didn’t do that.
“Looking back on it, we did a lot of good things in the game but we didn’t capitalise on the opportunities in the final third. That was the disappointing aspect of it. We didn’t create enough clearcut chances for the possession we had. That was an issue for us.
“It’s a home game against Luxembourg and we are expected to win. I respect that. We didn’t deserve to lose but we must do better. There’s no doubt about it. I’m very determined that we will improve and get it right.”
Kenny says that he is not aware of any protest having been planned by the players with regard to the issue of migrant worker rights in Qatar, particularly those working on World Cup projects, but said it is a decision for them to take.
“I’m all about freedom of speech, any individual has the right to express their opinion, I have no problem with that,” he said.
“There is a clear issue with human rights in the building of stadiums in Qatar, and the number of people who have died. You can’t sweep that under the carpet, it can’t be ignored. Initially the Norwegian team and various other teams have backed that and they are entitled to do that, with good reason.”