Stephen Kenny says lack of development means Ireland need radical change

Manager says squad is missing a cohort of players between ages of 20 and 29 or 30

Stephen Kenny has named his 27-man squad for Ireland’s June friendlies against Andorra and Hungary. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Stephen Kenny has named his 27-man squad for Ireland’s June friendlies against Andorra and Hungary. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Radical change is what Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny believes is necessary to alter the fortunes of a team that has failed to register a win in the Dubliner’s 11 matches in charge.

Kenny, who has named five uncapped players including Norwich City’s teenage defender Andrew Omobamidele in a 27-man squad to face Andorra and Hungary next month, believes that the snail’s pace of talent promoted by previous managers over the past “eight or nine years” has damaged Irish football in untold ways.

“We have radically changed things,” said Kenny. “We bought 15 new players into the international team in a six-month period, before this camp, and we capped 13.

“Some might feel it is too much change too quickly and I understand that viewpoint but, in my opinion, that change is necessary because we have absolutely no development for about eight or nine years.

“We had one player through in nine years, and nobody is really looking at that, and there is a huge demographic between players aged 29, 30 and aged 20 and very little in between.

“We have a bigger vision for what we want to achieve going forward and by integrating a lot of these players – not all of them will become top class international players but a number of them will. We have got a lot of talent and we want to see it develop and give them opportunity to develop. We want to see the team thrive.

“We have a clear idea how we want to do that.”

James McCarthy is a notable absentee despite playing 88 minutes in Crystal Palace’s 2-0 defeat to Liverpool on the weekend as Kenny feels the midfielder needs to focus on finding a new club and fully recuperating from injury.

Veterans Robbie Brady, Shane Long and Jeff Hendrick have also been ruled out of the 10-day summer camp in Girona, Spain, due to injury, surgery and personal reasons.

Four new players - Omobamidele is rewarded for helping Norwich gain promotion to the Premier League, St Mirren’s Jamie McGrath, Shamrock Rovers attacking midfielder Danny Mandroiu and Nigerian-born but Cork-reared Chiedozie Ogbene - have been called up to a squad that will be captained by Séamus Coleman.

Mandroiu, who Kenny went to see against Dundalk last Friday night in Oriel Park, is viewed as a creative “number 10” that previously did not exist in the squad. He made the same point about McGrath.

The 24-year-old, who Kenny managed at Dundalk, is rewarded for scoring 17 goals in Scottish football this season.

“Jamie is a very, very creative player, different type of player to the midfielders that we have, technically excellent, good feet right and left, works hard.

“Andrew Omobamidele has done terrific at Norwich in the last seven games,” Kenny added. “He has been accelerated into the senior squad much quicker than we anticipated really, because he is only 18 years of age, but he has looked extremely composed and extremely athletic.

“Chiedozie Ogbene is a very, very fast, powerful right winger. We don’t have that type of player in the squad and he was very influential in Rotherham getting promoted from League One to the Championship.”

The goalkeeping stocks are bolstered by Darren Randolph and Liverpool’s Caoimhín Kelleher making themselves available with 19-year-old Gavin Bazunu, on loan to Rochdale from Manchester City, retained after impressing on his debut in the harrowing 1-0 defeat to Luxembourg last March.

That result, which all but ruined Ireland’s chance of qualifying for Qatar 2022, will follow Kenny around until his radical approach to selection starts to yield results that match the 49-year-old’s intent.

Ireland play Andorra, ranked 134th in the world, in Barcelona on June 3rd with a five-day turnaround before travelling to Budapest to help Hungary prepare for the Euros.

“How would you define ‘must win’?” Kenny replied to a question about finally breaking the winless streak.

“Listen, of course I’m disappointed we haven’t won matches before now. I’m not going to try and paint another picture. Of course I am. We want to get a win, that’s certainly the ambition, for sure.”

Republic of Ireland squad

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (West Ham United), Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Gavin Bazunu (Rochdale, on loan from Manchester City)

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Tottenham Hotspur), Lee O’Connor (Tranmere Rovers, on loan from Celtic), James McClean (Stoke City), Ryan Manning (Swansea City), Shane Duffy (Brighton and Hove Albion), Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion), John Egan (Sheffield United), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City).

Midfielders: Josh Cullen (Anderlecht), Conor Hourihane (Swansea City, on loan from Aston Villa), Harry Arter (Nottingham Forest), Jason Knight (Derby County), Jayson Molumby (Preston North End, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion), Jamie McGrath (St. Mirren), Daniel Mandroiu (Shamrock Rovers).

Forwards: Callum Robinson (West Bromwich Albion), James Collins (Luton Town), Adam Idah (Norwich City), Aaron Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion), Troy Parrott (Tottenham Hotspur), Chiedozie Ogbene (Rotherham United), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers).

Republic of Ireland fixtures

June 3rd - Andorra v Ireland, Estadi Johan Cruyff, 5pm

June 8th - Hungary v Ireland, Szusza Ferenc Stadion, 7pm

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