Ireland suffer Callum O’Dowda blow as Stephen Kenny insists team needs 'to show fire and ice' against France

Kenny insists Boys in Green won't change game plan to 'accept a slow death' in Euro 2024 clash with Les Bleus

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny and Josh Cullen, left, during an press conference at FAI Headquarters in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Daniel McDonnell

Ireland's plans for tomorrow night's Euro 2024 qualifier with France have been disrupted by a groin injury for Callum O'Dowda but Séamus Coleman will train today to see if he can participate.

Stephen Kenny confirmed at his pre-match press conference that O'Dowda, who was in line to start at left wing back, has incurred a problem and the fact that Robbie Brady has been called in as cover highlights that the Cardiff City player is in bother.

On the plus side for Kenny, Norwich attacker Adam Idah has been passed fit after overcoming an injury.

The absence of Coleman from media proceedings was taken as evidence that a thigh problem had ruled him out of the match but the manager gave a different message.

"No, he is not ruled out," said Kenny, when asked about Coleman's prospects. "We will have to see how today goes. We train today.

"I wouldn't like to get drawn into percentages but certainly Séamus is a very good player. It's not so much his experience, it's that he's playing well himself at the moment.

"Experience is a factor but his performances for Everton have been very good. For footballing reasons, he merits his place in the team because he has been playing very well for Everton and had an injury free run and been able to train regularly over the last number of months.

"Callum O'Dowda has picked up a groin strain so Robbie Brady joined the squad last night.

"Adam Idah is fully fit, he is ok, he is absolutely fully fit and ready to go. He comes into our plans. He trained well yesterday and he has been playing consistently for Norwich every week so he comes back into the squad."

James McClean is the established squad alternative to O'Dowda, although Kenny does have the option of switching Matt Doherty who played left wing back against Portugal in September 2021.

However, Doherty's situation could well be tied in with Coleman's fitness and it would represent an unwanted reshuffle at the last minute.

Kenny has affirmed his view that Ireland will adopt a positive approach to the French encounter rather than take a step back out of respect for the opposition.

"We've been working on a way of playing for the last two years. We're very, very comfortable in possession, as comfortable as any team in Europe now at possession. Why would we change now?" said Kenny.

"Why would we take a step back now? This is the time that the team needs to show conviction, when the lights come on in the Aviva and the atmosphere is rocking as it will ever be and as electric as it will ever be.

"And France, one of the best teams in the world coming at us, do we just suddenly change and not have to courage to do that? And just accept a slow death? Definitely not. And I think we'll show, and we'll need to show fire and ice.

"We need to show fire, we need to have that level of tenacity in our play and aggression in our play but also have composure in possession and have that level of calm in our play in possession. And it's trying to combine the two.

"It's not easy, not easy against the best team in the world who are in formidable form as we saw the other night but that's the way we will definitely approach it."