Stephen Kenny keeping his guard up ahead of Andorra assignment

Republic of Ireland manager coy about team selection as he bids for first win of tenure

Conor Hourihane won’t captain Ireland in Andorra according to Stephen Kenny. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Conor Hourihane won’t captain Ireland in Andorra according to Stephen Kenny. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

 

Stephen Kenny is far too focussed on ending the 11 game winless streak as Republic of Ireland manager to reveal his starting XI ahead of Thursday evening’s friendly in Andorra.

Séamus Coleman’s hamstring injury has the captain in a race against time to feature in Budapest next Tuesday while Sam Szmodics has been ruled out of making his debut this month with a shoulder injury.

Same goes for Chiedozie Ogbene, although the Cork winger might shake off a “tight groin” before Thursday’s 5pm kick off (live on RTÉ Two).

What we do know is Conor Hourihane will not be wearing the armband instead of Coleman.

“He won’t actually,” said Kenny, who seemed startled to be asked an obvious question considering the Swansea City midfielder, on loan from Aston Villa, had just spoke to the media. “I haven’t named that yet but he won’t be.

“We will address that later on.”

Kenny did indicate that John Egan, after being ruled out via “close contact, concussion and a metatarsal” injury is “delighted to come back in and play for his country.”

The mere idea of Ireland failing to beat Andorra, ranked 158th in the Fifa rankings to Ireland’s 47th, turns what would be an instantly forgettable fixture into a really dangerous tie, even considering the home side’s recent results.

In Andorra’s last six matches, all defeats, they have scored two goals yet conceded 23, while Ireland boast a slightly better return with two draws, and a 3-9 aggregate score.

Another press conference means another question about Naomi Osaka’s stance against this form of communication.

“It is a very good question,” Kenny laughed at the suggestion that more time could be afforded a manager before appearing on live television post game. “We have always just considered it as part of the job.

“We shouldn’t complain. We are privileged to be in a position to do it so but I can understand how it can have a detrimental effect on players or sports people. I can emphasise with that, that’s a reality.

“I have no plans to change the format.

“I am always in awe of boxers getting out of the ring and speaking straight away after 12 or 15 rounds. I always find that incredible.”

Kenny looked like he had gone a few rounds with Gerson Rodrigues after the Luxembourg striker’s winner at the Aviva Stadium last March flung Ireland’s aspirations of qualifying for Qatar 2022 into turmoil.

“Boxers have some the toughest interviews after the toughest fight. To lose a fight and have to speak about that and speak about your opponent, they probably deserve the most credit out of sports people.”

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