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'I always knew you couldn't change everything overnight' - Kenny positive for Slovakia test

Kenny has high hopes for Slovakia improvement despite defeat in first home game as Ireland manager

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Stephen Kenny watches on during Ireland's defeat against Finland. Photo: Niall Carson/Pool via Reuters

Stephen Kenny watches on during Ireland's defeat against Finland. Photo: Niall Carson/Pool via Reuters

Stephen Kenny watches on during Ireland's defeat against Finland. Photo: Niall Carson/Pool via Reuters

Stephen Kenny has insisted the lessons of the past week will stand to his Ireland side when they enter next month's crunch Euro 2020 play-off with Slovakia.

The Dubliner says he made experimental decisions in his opening double-header with that Bratislava date in mind and is confident that his players will be better equipped for that encounter after building up their sharpness at club level.

He thinks that fatigue was a factor in some loose defending in the Aviva Stadium defeat to Finland, a view that was backed up by defender Shane Duffy who admitted that he was again struggling after a long spell out of action.

Kenny said that a return of one point from his opening two games hadn't altered any of his perceptions about the scale of the task facing him.

"I always knew you couldn't change everything overnight," said the Ireland manager.

"Listen, I was experimental in the two games but we wanted to do better results-wise for sure - I can't deny that. And I can't say I was just looking to the long-term because that wouldn't be true either.

"Looking towards Slovakia next month... we needed to look at our attacking and midfield options for Slovakia and we've looked at quite a few players.

"The games are not friendlies. We don't take them lightly and we wanted to win.

"And it's been great to have these two games. It's a big challenge going out there (Slovakia), I knew that but I think we'll be a lot better out there than we are now. We have a clear idea of what exactly we require."

Kenny said that a decision to change his entire midfield was not a reaction any performances in Thursday's draw with Bulgaria, suggesting that both Jeff Hendrick and James McCarthy needed their game-time managed.

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He wanted to trial debutant Jayson Molumby and give Harry Arter and Robbie Brady a prolonged run, but acknowledged that the amount of football they play with their clubs over the next month will shape Slovakian thinking.

"The dilemma is how much football the players get at their clubs," he said.

"A lot of them are not guaranteed their place."

Duffy is looking forward to his move to Celtic, indicating he will benefit from the regular football.

He backed himself to adapt to Kenny's strategy, despite some testing moments across both games that he was open about - especially an adjustment to a higher defensive line.

"I'm my biggest critic," said the 28-year-old. "I've got to improve and keep going. I know what I need to do, to get back to my best. It's different, obviously. Them slight seconds for the goal, you're tired.

"You try and stay up and go on the run. I back myself and I don't see many players really getting the better of me. I've got to deal with big spaces and being on the ball, I've got to get better with that."


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