Stephen Kenny confident ahead of first showing despite injuries
He’s had to make another change to his squad after Simon Power was ruled out
Stephen Kenny’s Irish team begin their Under-21 European Championship qualifying campaign against Luxembourg on Sunday. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Stephen Kenny says that things are “shaping up nicely” for Sunday’s opening game of the new Under-21 European Championship qualifying campaign against Luxembourg, but the Dubliner has had to make another change to his first full Ireland squad after Simon Power was ruled out by a calf strain.
“He came in with a calf problem, a grade one tear,” explains the Irish under-21’s boss, “but we’ve only just assessed it and we are in talks with his club, Norwich City. He is likely to be out for two weeks, though.”
Shamrock Rovers’ Brandon Kavanagh, who had been on standby, comes in to replace him, something that again raises the possibility of the club seeking to have their game against Finn Harps called off at the weekend. Stephen Bradley said on Friday night, when he already knew he would be losing Trevor Clarke to the under-21s and a call up for Kavanagh was a distinct possibility that they preferred to press ahead in the hope of building on a good start. But that was before Jack Byrne was drafted into the senior squad.
Notwithstanding the loss of Troy Parrott, Michael Obafemi, Aaron Connolly and now Power, Kenny says he is happy with the way his preparations for Sunday’s game in Tallaght (kick-off 5pm) have been progressing but insists that Luxembourg won’t be pushovers.
“They have 15 of the group that they had last time available for this campaign,” he says. “They beat Bulgaria 1-0 and lost narrowly twice to a good French team so they are a good team. But I have great faith in the players that I still have and I think that it’s been shaping up nicely for Sunday.
“We have never qualified for the Under-21 finals but we have some great young players in this squad with a terrific attitude. We have to be ambitious in the way we are thinking. What we have to focus on is winning the match without making rash predictions beyond that but we won’t be lacking in confidence and we will be positive in our approach.”