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Kenny will demand style as he prepares for extra focus on U-21 exploits

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Ireland U-21 manager Stephen Kenny. Pho: Sportsfile

Ireland U-21 manager Stephen Kenny. Pho: Sportsfile

Ireland U-21 manager Stephen Kenny. Pho: Sportsfile

The U-21 side has been the poor relation of Irish football.

Major tournament qualification has eluded every manager. The elite players in Brian Kerr's golden generation of kids that won the Euros at U-16 and U-18 level were fast-tracked to senior level.

Stephen Kenny wants the mood around the team to change, even though he is ultimately serving his time before his own promotion.

He is conscious there will be extra attention on the U-21 team because of the FAI's succession plan, and views it as a positive.

"It's great, I don't have a problem with it," said Kenny yesterday at the announcement of a home-based squad that will meet for a training camp next month.

"The more interest the better, I'm happy with that. Criticism... more criticism than normal. That's all right as well. I'm looking forward to it.

"I hope the first game against Luxembourg in Tallaght (March), that there is a great crowd there and that people want to see this new batch of players."

Kenny views this training camp as an important part of finalising his squad for March, although he stressed there are no guarantees that his group will be packed with League of Ireland representatives.

Helpful

He does feel the league can be very helpful for preparation, especially as a number of his options overseas are not playing first-team football.

"The evidence backs it up with the number of lads that have come through the league to become full internationals," said Kenny, who admitted that the camp's clash with the Collingwood Cup was unfortunate for the colleges whose players have been called up.

Kenny said that when March comes around, he will have to consider whether to call-up the likes of Troy Parrott and Adam Idah even though they are part of Tom Mohan's U-19 side. Indeed, Parrott is still eligible at U-17 level.

He is happy with his options in defence but has identified central midfield and the wide department as areas where he is a bit lighter.

His Dundalk side won admirers because of their attractive playing style, and Kenny wants to bring that to his new job.

"I have a style of play and I want the players to go and enjoy their football," he said.

"Of course we will take risks - all over the park. We will definitely do that. It's not just for aesthetics. I believe it's a better way of playing.

Former Ireland international Keith Andrews and Ireland U-18 manager Jim Crawford will assist Kenny in his role.

Irish Independent