As most of us all probably know by now, It was announced by the FAI a number of weeks ago that Mick McCarthy would leave his role as the Republic of Ireland manager earlier than expected after the European Championships were rescheduled to 2021 and the Playoffs that were rescheduled to June have been postponed. His successor would be Stephen Kenny, as we found out in late 2018. In my opinion, I would have preferred for Mick to manage us during the playoffs and have hopefully got us to the Euros and had a good send off but that will not happen now so unless the playoffs are moved to March 2021, they could be Stephen Kenny’s first matches in his new role as manager of the senior team and if he can get us into the Euros in his first few games that would give him a good start. If it is his first games and we don’t make it, I would still advise to back him up and believe in him and the squad. I think the Nations League games which are scheduled for September, October and November will be a great experience for Stephen to get used to the squad and hopefully be testing out who we could bring to the Euros if we qualify.
Everyone is still unsure about when the Playoffs will be on whether its before the Nations League or after them in March we should still all believe in Stephen and give him a chance. We don’t even know who his first match in charge of The Boys In Green will be against or when it will be but I am going to take you through who could lineout in his first match in my opinion.
I’m going to take a look into who could feature in Kenny’s first senior squad.
As we know, Kenny had a years spell with the under 21s so he knows a lot of the younger players and he will know who is ready and who isn’t and he could possibly invest and trust in the youth as we have seen how well he can do with them for example the Toulon Tournament in the Summer last year when they finished 4th under Stephen in our very first time competing in the tournament so we know that he will have his eyes on a couple of youngsters to bring into the squad maybe not straight away in the playoffs but the Nations League would be a great time for him to experiment some of the younger players.
It’s good as Stephen knows some of the youth as well from his time with the under 21s and there are a couple of players expected to get their debuts with the senior team under Stephen such as Adam Idah who would be a great asset up front and we know what he can do as he scored a hat trick in his first FA Cup game for Norwich this year. Jason Knight and Jayson Molumby are two more great players who could get game time for the senior team under Stephen as they are two great technical, attacking and defensive minded midfielders who have already shown that with the under 21s and their respective clubs. West Brom’s Dara O’Shea has been considered the next Shane Duffy if not even better in the future as he is a defensive rock and he can attack from corners as well which is one of Shane Duffy’s traits as well as Dara has already scored his first goal for the Baggies from centre back in the championship. Lee O’Connor could be another player to watch at the back as he has already made his debut for Ireland under Mick. There are a good few younger strikers coming up as well as Adam Idah as We know that Aaron Connolly and Troy Parrott are expected to get back into the squad but Troy is struggling for game time at Spurs so we will have to wait and see what happens there but we also have Michael Obafemi who has already scored on a couple of occasions up front for Southampton and finally up front Jonathan Afolabi could be looking to get into the squad in the next year as the Celtic man was named in the under 19 Euros team of the tournament. There are lots of other young talents in the under 21s and the younger teams as well but that’s for another day. It’s really exciting to see all the amazing young talent that Ireland have coming up in the ranks.
The League of Ireland
When with the under 21s Stephen liked to use a couple of League of Ireland talents as we have seen him name the likes of Darragh Leahy, Daniel Mandriou, Conor Kearns, Gavin Bazunu, Liam Scales, Neil Farrugia, Andy Lyons, Ross Treacy, Danny Grant, Zack Elbouzedi, Sam Todd, John Mahon, Jamie Lennon, Stephen Mallon, Brandon Kavanagh, Will Fitzgerald, Robbie McCourt, Jack Keaney, Karl O’Sullivan, JJ Lunney, Michael O’Connor and Ronan Hale. So we know he likes too use young League of Ireland talents but we might get to see older players such as Dundalk stars Pat Hoban and Michael Duffy and Rovers stars Jack Byrne and Graham Burke who have already featured for the senior side and we might see some other LOI players we never know who Stephen could show his interest in. It’s very good that Stephen is trying to promote players in the League of Ireland and show that the league have some very good players and it’s exciting to see who could feature out of the LOI for Stephen in the senior team.
The Experienced Players
Experience is the key to a winning side but that doesn’t mean that you cant try younger players or LOI players and I think the Nations League will be a great way to try out some of those players. I think Stephen has to use the best players that the country has to offer who are available during the Playoffs because these games are key and we want to play in Dublin in front of a home crowd in Lansdowne Road next Summer. I cant see why he cant call a couple of the younger players up for the reserves or bench or at least the experience the same with the likes of Jack Byrne or some experienced enough quality LOI players but I think the players in the starting 11 will have to be the players who have played during the rest of the qualifying campaign as they are used to playing with eachother. As Stephen said in his first ever press conerence as the senior Irish manager “ We have a great backline in Enda Stevens, Shane Duffy, John Egan, Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty” and I believe that is the strongest backline out of Slovakia, Northern Ireland and Bosnia and Herzogovina so we should use that to our advantage and we have experienced enough midfielders and we have lots of depth in the midfield area such as Conor Hourihane, James McClean, Jeff Hendrick, Glenn Whelan, Alan Browne, Callum Robinson, Robbie Brady, Harry Arter, Aiden McGeady, Jack Byrne, Callum O’Dowda, Alan Judge, Josh Cullen and James McCarthy so we have a lot of depth and players to bring in if we want to so that’s a plus. Finally we have a good few Attacking options as well in David McGoldrick, Shane Long, Aaron Connolly, James Collins, Scott Hogan, Seanie Maguire, Troy Parrott, Ronan Curtis, Michael Obafemi, Adam Idah, Aiden O’Brien, and Jonathan Afolabi so we have some good options.
Those players that I just mentioned are some potential options and players that could feature in Stephen’s next few squads in my opinion.
In my opinion, his first squad will look something like this:
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph, Caoimhin Kelleher, Mark Travers.
Defenders: Shane Duffy, Ciaran Clark, John Egan, Enda Stevens, Matt Doherty, Seamus Coleman.
Midfielders: Jeff Hendrick, James McClean, Callum Robinson, James McCarthy, Alan Browne, Conor Hourihane, Callum O’Dowda, Robbie Brady, Glenn Whelan, Josh Cullen.
Strikers: Shane Long, David McGoldrick, Scott Hogan, Aaron Connolly.
Stephen Kenny clearly has a lot of decent options in every position and the squad could be a lot different as it is tough to pick even when I was trying to do what I think his squad might be he might pick some players that he used with the under 21s such as Adam Idah, Troy Parrott, Jason Knight, Jayson Molumby and Michael Obafemi they are the players that I haven’t included that I think he could pick or be in the provisional squad. But I think as fans we have to be very positive about Stephen coming in and if the Playoffs are his first few games which is most likely and if we don’t come out as Euro qualifiers which will hopefully not happen we have to back Stephen up and get behind him as this is his biggest job to date and we don’t want him to feel like he isn’t wanted he is a great manager as he has showed mainly with Dundalk in his League of Ireland days and with the under 21s so lets get behind him and be positive and lets respect whoever he picks to be in the squad with his new backroom staff to hopefully start off a great and hopefully long new era/campaign with the Boys in Green. #Coybig