Saturday 14 December 2019

'He is very adaptable' - Kenny backs Parrott to thrive at Spurs after Pochettino's surprise sacking

Troy Parrott scored Ireland's third goal in the 4-1 win over Sweden at Tallaght Stadium. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Troy Parrott scored Ireland's third goal in the 4-1 win over Sweden at Tallaght Stadium. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

STEPHEN KENNY is sure that Troy Parrott's versatility and natural goalscoring ability will allow him to rise to the challenge presented by Mauricio Pochettino's exit from Tottenham Hotspur.

Parrott scored for Kenny's U-21 side in their impressive thrashing of Sweden Tuesday night, capping a memorable week for the 17-year-old after he made his senior debut against New Zealand and made the bench for the Euro 2020 qualifier with Denmark.

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However, news of Pochettino's departure and the arrival of Jose Mouriniho has raised questions about where the young players that were being nurtured by the Argentine might stand in a new regime.

Kenny feels that the Dubliner has learned the Spurs style with a view to functioning as an alternative to Harry Kane but is sure the teenage prodigy has the range of skills to endear himself to Mourinho.

"He is very adaptable," said Kenny, "Obviously goal-scorers are rare enough so you have to grasp them, the natural instinctive goal-scorers, and he has that. I suppose (it will be) a different challenge."

Parrott started as a number ten against the Swedes before a half-time reshuffle saw him move to the left side, where he frequently cut inside to cause havoc.

Sub Connor Ronan thrived as the playmaker and made Ireland's third goal for Parrott to cap a fine team move.

Kenny acknowledged that Ronan was perhaps unfortunate to be left out of the starting side when Parrott became available.

The Wolves player, who is on loan in Slovakia, had operated in that position in the 1-0 win away to Armenia at the beginning of this double header.

"We put a request in to see the lie of the land if he (Parrott) didn't come on (v Denmark)," said Kenny, "If someone of his ability comes along, you definitely play him. But maybe Connor Ronan knows exactly what we are doing.

"Troy had to put in a shift for the team and be selfless. He wouldn't complain but he wouldn't be ecstatic to move to the left. He's a non-traditional number nine. They (Spurs) have a system of play where the number nine drops right into midfield and links the play.

"He has been schooled in that way of playing but he is a brilliant finisher and has great instincts for getting into goal-scoring opportunities. He smells a chance and he has different ways of scoring goals. It's great to have that when he's only 17, it's amazing.

"When he played in Sweden (September's 3-1 win), he came on in the number ten position and got two unbelievable goals. When a 17-year-old does that, it's special. But tonight was a real team performance."

Kenny also hailed the contribution of Norwich's Adam Idah, who also got on the score-sheet and put in a power-packed display leading the line.

Like Parrott, Idah has trained and travelled with his club's first team squad consistently but that's had the knock-on effect of reducing his gametime at U23 level because he's away with the big boys - often as the 19th man in the squad.

Ronan has gained plenty of experience with Dunajská Streda and his decision-making was praised by the former Dundalk boss. "He made it look simple," said Kenny, "We had willing runners and he was able to find the right weight on passes which is a skill in itself that shouldn't be underestimated."

Kenny's side will face Iceland (home) and Luxembourg (away) in a March double-header and victory in those matches will guarantee that they enter the final match away to Italy with a chance of topping the group.

By the time that match comes around in October 2020, Kenny will have graduated to the senior job.

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