Positive omens for Kenny ahead of Ireland’s Slovakia clash
A number of players have impressed for clubs since start of Premier League season
Callum Robinson scores for West Brom against Chelsea. Photograph: Nick Potts/EPA
Troy Parrott looks to be out of Ireland’s games against Slovakia, Wales and Finland while Robbie Brady and Callum O’Dowda must be regarded as hugely doubtful given that injuries have sidelined them at their clubs recently. Stephen Kenny, however, still has cause for some satisfaction with the way some of his other players have been faring as he prepares to name his second senior Ireland squad at lunchtime on Tuesday.
Having acknowledged that fitness was an issue for him on the games against Bulgaria and Finland, Shane Duffy has played five full games for Celtic since joining them a month ago with the central defender scoring in each of his first two league outings for the Scottish club.
Seamus Coleman has shown terrific early season form at Everton while David McGoldrick and James McCarthy have both overcome injury concerns to get a fair bit of football under their belts in the past couple of weeks.
Jeff Hendrick looks to have quickly established himself at Newcastle while Conor Hourihane was on the scoresheet for Aston Villa on Monday night and Dara O’Shea has retained his place at newly promoted West Brom.
Callum Robinson has also made a strong start to the campaign with the west midlands club and scored twice in Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Chelsea while Aaron Connolly has started Brighton’s last two Premier League games and scored for his club at Newcastle.
A handful of players have been restricted to League Cup action with Jayson Molumby featuring once for Brighton, Darren Randolph twice for West Ham but after playing for Bournemouth once after returning to the club from Fulham, Harry Arter made his Championship debut for Nottingham Forest over the weekend.
Parrott’s injury looks certain to keep him out of the squad with Millwall manager Gary Rowett suggesting at the weekend that it would be another two weeks before he is over an ankle problem sustained on his debut.
O’Dowda will be more of a concern, though, given that Kenny started him in both of last month’s games. The 25-year-old limped out of the loss to Finland with a groin injury, however, and has not kicked a ball for Bristol City since.
Brady’s chest injury, also sustained while on international duty but subsequently aggravated during his first, and to date only, league appearance of the new campaign, has kept him out of Burnley’s last two games and Ciaran Clark looks likely to miss out again after failing to make it through Newcastle’s 7-0 win at Morecambe last week.
Jimmy Dunne has seized the opportunity presented by injuries to other at Burnley and will be hopeful of another senior call up but with possible openings in midfield Jack Byrne’s return to form should have him firmly in contention again.
“Personally, I know Jack can play at any level,” said Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley after Sunday’s win at Oriel Park where the Ireland manager watched as Byrne scored twice and dominated the proceedings at times.
“That’s not in doubt for me but Stephen will pick what he sees right.
“I keep saying that when we did the mini pre-season, Jack couldn’t do anything so it was always going to take him a while to get back up to speed. Tonight, he was back to his levels and I think he controlled the game.
“When he came back against Derry and Pat’s,” Bradley continued “his running was that bit slower and so was ours. But when he’s at this level, his game goes to another level and so do we. Everything happens around him quicker. Runs are quicker, passes, penetration so everything is quicker when he’s at that level. And the most pleasing aspect for me is the work-rate. He’s a proper team player.”
Ireland head to Bratislava next week for Thursday week’s twice postponed Euro2021 play-off game against Slovakia before heading into Nations League group games against Wales (home) on October 11th and Finland away three days later. All of the games are currently scheduled to be playing behind closed doors.
The team has one Nations League point from two group games to date after drawing with Bulgaria and being beaten by the Finns at the start of September. Those results contributed to Ireland falling out of Europe’s top 20 teams in the Fifa rankings and Kenny will want to reverse that drop ahead of November’s World Cup draw if being seeded third is to be avoided.