Stephen Kenny sees Hungary game as key part of Ireland's build-up to September

Manager hints that Troy Parrott may not start in Budapest on Tuesday night

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Hungary v Republic of Ireland, Szusza Ferenc Stadium, Budapest, 7pm Irish time – Live RTÉ Two

A friendly with consequences. For Hungary this is the last stop before the Euros group of death alongside France, Germany and most importantly Portugal, where the Republic of Ireland’s spluttering World Cup qualification campaign could be cleaned out on September 1st.

For Ireland it is a chance to truly “turn the page” as Matt Doherty suggested last Thursday’s 4-1 win over Andorra managed to achieve, but late goals in the Pyrenees, three via the modern oddity of crossed balls, would be overshadowed by a poor showing in a troubled Budapest.

Ten thousand demonstrators flooded the capital’s streets on Saturday to protest prime minister Viktor Orbán, a right-wing football fanatic, allowing the construction of a Chinese University over affordable housing for Hungarian students.

A similar crowd is expected at the Szusza Ferenc Stadium with the return of fans appearing to prompt Stephen Kenny into revealing his goalkeeping preference ahead of three autumn qualifiers.

Reading between the lines, Kenny will stick with Manchester City’s Gavin Bazunu as Liverpool’s Caoimhín Kelleher makes his debut off the bench, providing the game permits such a risky substitution.

“I’m Caoimhín’s biggest fan,” said Kenny. “Had he been fit in March he would have started, it’s fair to say, for the qualifiers.

“Gavin Bazunu’s has come in and just been absolutely excellent. Sometimes you take your chance.

“I’m cognisant that [Kelleher is uncapped], but I would like Gavin to get some time in front of a crowd, a passionate crowd before our next game, Portugal away, because he’s not played in front of a crowd all year.”

The usual problem for Kenny after Tuesday night’s fixture is a chunk of his squad face uncertain futures at club level in England, although he is comforted by pre-season matches tending to guarantee minutes for all players.

Continuing to have faith in teenagers like Troy Parrott, despite the lack of compelling evidence during a barren loan spell at Ipswich, are the very judgment calls that will define Kenny’s time in charge.

“It is all relevant,” said Kenny. “We want the players to perform well for Ireland and show they can play with the individual tasks that they have been given. That is important.”

This sentence, taken in isolation, does not bode well for last week’s central midfielders, Josh Cullen and Conor Hourihane, who struggled to control the tempo against lowly Andorra.

“The season is only a week old coming into September so, really, this is five games in a row,” Kenny continued. “That’s how I compartmentalise it; two games now, the players have a couple of weeks off and they are back playing a week and they are into international camp.”

That is why this friendly matters more than previous June wind-downs.

However, when it comes to the motivational stakes, Hungary hold all the aces. Marco Rossi is under severe pressure to get a result as if they cannot deal with lowly Ireland what hope do they have against Portugal, 10 kilometres down the River Danube in the Puskás Arena, seven days from now?

The name of the stadiums alone should remind Ireland that this is a pure soccer nation, even if the Magyars last reached a World Cup final in 1954 (when they was robbed by West Germany).

Kenny did not warm to the simplistic theory that how Ireland fare against Hungary and Hungary goes against Portugal will be relevant come September.

“I think Hungary has decided on a system, 3-5-2. They play two strikers, three in midfield and three centre backs. They have stuck to that system and that’s worked well for them.

“So I think we shouldn’t rigidly copy any team on the basis they won their playoff and we lost on penalties. I don’t think we should rigidly copy anyone, but we respect what they have achieved.”

Kenny also refused to be drawn on how his team will set up, although he indicated during a cryptic answer about Parrott being a second striker that the 19-year-old may not fit into his system for Tuesday’s game.

“Troy has had that sort of career, even in the Irish underage teams, where he has been used in a lot of positions. And he has tactical flexibility at club level. At Millwall they played 3-4-3 and he played on the left a lot. At Ipswich he wasn’t really used as a number nine but that is what Tottenham would see him as.

“He definitely has the capacity to play higher and play in that attacking number 10 position. He is good at linking the play as well, and he has the capacity to arrive late and score goals, so he definitely can play that.

“Can we play against Hungary with two wingers and two [centre forwards] like that? You leave yourself quite open away from home playing like that, so can we adapt in other areas to allow him to do like that? That is the question.

“We have to tactically modify the possibilities before we can get him to do that.”

Kenny, as is his wont, quickly mentioned Adam Idah and Jason Knight as similar threats.

No second Troy feels like a needless faux pas when a tactical modification could have Ireland’s only proven goal scorer on the pitch.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (possible): Bazunu; Doherty, Egan, O’Shea, Manning; Arter, Cullen, Knight; Horgan, Parrott, Idah.

Referee: Daniel Stefaski (Poland).

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