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'He is not going to change, absolutely not' - Damian Duff backs Stephen Kenny's footballing philosophy


Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

DAMIEN Duff believes Stephen Kenny is right to stick to his guns and avoid a return to a long-ball game in a bid to bring the national team forward.

Duff left his role on Kenny's coaching staff earlier this year and while the Republic set-up are in Andorra for the first of two summer friendlies, Duff was in Dublin, on punditry duty for RTE.

Speaking at the launch of RTE's Summer of Sport, Duff regretted the fact that Ireland did not qualify after their playoff loss to Slovakia, but feels that the manager, who was without a win in his first 11 games in charge, has to be given time.

"If I was a coach at any level, U-15s whatever, that’s the way I would like to coach, that’s the way Stephen likes to set up his team. There is no getting away from that. Stephen is not going to change his philosophy, he’s not going to change now," said Duff.

"When he comes in and people are saying 'yeah this is great, we’re going to play this way', you have to stick with him. You can’t go ‘Oh no, I want results now, we’ve got to go back to hoofing the ball. It takes time, it doesn’t happen overnight and hopefully these young exciting players that are coming through can start to play now.

"You want a team, of course you want to qualify for tournaments, but you want to watch exciting football, playing the right way and Stephen is not going to change, absolutely not."

"They’ve had an awful lot of stick, the Ireland team, but when you go back to that play-off game against Slovakia, I obviously studied them a lot in the build-up to the game, they’ve dominated good teams over the last number of years," Duff added.

"Slovakia are a really good team, I hope that you’ll see that in the Euros, and Ireland went away and for 120 minutes dominated them, created a lot of chances, playing football the right way, playing the way everybody is craving, and that was with our near strongest XI.

"Covid has hit the Irish team hard at times. So yeah, listen, we’re not there, we’ve no games here [Dublin] either which is a hard hit. But Stephen Kenny is building and hopefully building something special, he’s bringing through a lot of youth now, with the likes of Seamus Coleman. I think the future is positive and exciting"

The former Celtic coach also suggested a possible early exit for England as he tipped France to win the Euro 2020 title.

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"England play Croatia first, Croatia could do them and Scotland, who are close to my heart, could put them out in the second game. Scotland have a good, solid squad, they have a lot of Celtic players who are well-coached, top players. They are not going to take the game to teams, they are going to sit back and frustrate, they will do that with England, call me a dreamer but second game and they could be out, with Scotland going through," he said.

"All jokes aside, the two finalists in the Champions League were two English teams, with top young talents. You talk about creating a future, with the likes of Foden and Mount you'd imagine on paper England will go far, but for me I can't look beyond France. My favourite player, Mbappe, their starting XI is the strongest in the whole tournament, it would be great of they did meet England in the knockout stages but if I have to hang my hat on somebody I'd say France."

*Damien Duff was speaking at the launch of RTE's Summer Of Sport schedule.

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