Dara O’Shea’s return to the starting team for West Brom and a first goal in five months for Adam Idah was two badly-needed good news stories for Stephen Kenny on a weekend when he had a wasted scouting mission to London.
And the Ireland boss also learned that James McClean has been ruled out of action for next month’s World Cup qualifiers with a foot injury, a diagnosis confirmed by his club, Stoke City, which reduces Kenny’s options for the double header away to Serbia and at home to Luxembourg.
The presence of Darren Randolph in the West Ham United side for only his third Premier League appearance in 13 months came with a note of caution as Hammers boss David Moyes was critical of the Bray native in their 2-1 loss to Manchester City, and intimating the goalkeeper is still troubled by a nagging thigh injury.
Kenny was in the English capital for the Tottenham-Burnley game but Matt Doherty was only given nine minutes of action off the bench in a 4-0 romp for Spurs, added focus on Dubliner Doherty from earlier in the day when former Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane reignited the dispute between him and Keane.
On commentary duty for Sky Sports, Keane dismissed the £15m fee which Spurs paid Wolves for Doherty last year and asked “Does anyone really think Doherty is going to turn Spurs into a top-four team? Doherty? Doherty, really?”.
Keane and Doherty clashed over O’Neill’s time as Ireland manager, as Keane is believed to have contacted the player with an angry response to a radio interview where Doherty was critical of O’Neill’s regime, Keane particularly angered at Doherty’s claim that training under O’Neill was “old-school”.
Doherty, Kevin Long and Jimmy Dunne all started on the bench and Doherty was given limited game time as a late sub while Long and Dunne were unused, Robbie Brady not even in the squad due to injury.
Randolph has been absent from the West Ham squad in recent weeks due to a thigh injury but a late knock suffered by Fabianski saw him start against City. There were fears that Moyes would need to replace Randolph during the game and while the Ireland No 1 played on, he was unable to take goal kicks.
Moyes mentioned Randolph in expressing his unhappiness with the two goals conceded. “I was disappointed with both goals we conceded, to be honest. For the first one, the ball travelled too long without us getting the first contact on the header or the goalkeeper coming and claiming it, so I was disappointed,” he said.
“Darren Randolph has been out in recent weeks with a bit of a thigh strain. He’s been back in training for a week or two but I think he felt the effects of his thigh again. Thankfully, we got him through to the end of the game. We were ready to make a change, but we found a way for him not to have to take the kicks. Hopefully he’ll get over it and we’ll also get Lukasz back.”
O’Shea was proud of his role in a rare win for West Brom at home to Brighton. “It’s great as a defender to get another clean sheet. It’s what you want as a defender, to be picking up clean sheets,” the Dubliner said.
“This was the big one of the week. We’ve won the game and everyone is in a great mood. We want to kick on and take this positivity into our games against Everton and Newcastle because we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
Idah came off the bench to score for Norwich in their 2-0 win over Wycombe, his first goal since September.