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Expect Kenny to let stars shine - U-21 ace Elbouzedi

 

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Republic of Ireland's Zack Elbouzedi. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland's Zack Elbouzedi. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland's Zack Elbouzedi. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Irish U-21 winger Zack Elbouzedi feels that Stephen Kenny and Keith Andrews will give players the belief and freedom they need to deliver success at senior level.

Elbouzedi thrived under new senior manager Kenny and his assistant Andrews last year, and wore the captain's armband in the second-half destruction of Sweden in November which proved to be their farewell to that level.

The U-21s are top of their group and on course for a shoot-out with Italy for automatic qualification to the Euros under Kenny's replacement Jim Crawford.

Lincoln's Elbouzedi has welcomed Crawford's promotion from the coaching staff in that age group but is also excited by where the seniors can go under a new style of management, and his target now is to play his way into their thoughts whenever football resumes.

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"There's not going to be a rigid formation where you can't try things," says Elbouzedi, who moved to the ambitious League One side after starring in green alongside his Waterford exploits.

"They (Kenny and Andrews) give you the freedom to try things and if you make mistakes, then try again. We had a very cohesive unit and a shape but there is freedom there too.

"Keith has an unbelievable knowledge of the game. During camps, he would take the attacking players and Jim (Crawford) would take the defensive players. He has a really good knowledge, it's infectious and he gets his point across well.

"Stephen had great belief in us. From day one, he said our goal was to qualify for the European Championships, it wasn't just to get to a play-off. When he went to Toulon, he said our goal was to win the tournament, not just to compete in it.

"We fully bought into what he wanted and you could see the results on the pitch. If you buy into that, you will like it."

Irish Independent