Tuesday 17 September 2019

Kenny may go Dutch for the visit of Armenia

Republic of Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Republic of Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Stephen Kenny will resist the temptation to replicate Louis van Gaal's ploy of unleashing a quartet of his strikers on Armenia tonight, but he has promised an attacking approach in the U-21 Euro qualifier.

An upbeat start to the reign of the next senior boss in his first international role, one defeat in six, has created a buzz around this particular generation of rookies.

Confidence is clearly on the rise as is demonstrated by the strides players are making at club level. This is particularly the case with strikers such as Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly and Troy Parrott who have seen their profiles soar.

The abundance of forwards reminds Kenny of the Dutch approach when they lost to Ireland in that famous World Cup qualifier at Lansdowne Road in 2001.

Despite the progression of his strike-force, those fortunate enough to get the nod at Tallaght Stadium tonight will do so based solely on his judgment.

"The squad is evolving all the time," noted Kenny. "Players excel with their clubs at different times. Jason Knight, for instance, has broken into Derby County's first team since we were in Toulon. He's still only 18.

"I work on the basis of what I see with my own eyes. There will certainly be more than one centre-forward on the pitch against Armenia.

"Holland got a lot of stick for having four strikers on the pitch. I think it's getting the balance right, how the team is going to grow. I won't let others decide what our team is."

Gavin Kilkenny seems to be one newcomer who has done enough to warrant a start.

The Dubliner is still eligible at U-19 level but his pre-season form with Bournemouth, coupled with a debut in the League Cup last week, thrusts him into contention for a start in the Tallaght showdown.

He could replace the injured Conor Ronan as Kenny's No 10 for the second match of the campaign to reach the 2021 finals.

"This is the first time Gavin has been in with us and he's very much in contention to play," said Kenny.

"He played in central midfield of a 4-4-2 in the League Cup, whereas he was always a very light winger.

"That was a very experienced Bournemouth team he played in but he's one of those lads that just doesn't give the ball away. He doesn't lose possession."

Ireland U-21 v Armenia U-21
Live, eir Sport 1, 8.0

Irish Independent

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