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Goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly opts out of Irish camp over Covid concerns

Kelly has chosen to leave camp as he is asthmatic.

Alan Kelly.
Alan Kelly.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRISH GOALKEEPER COACH Alan Kelly has opted out of the Irish camp over concerns about Covid-19.

UK-based Kelly did not join the Irish squad on their flight back to Dublin for Wednesday’s Nations League game with Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium, instead returning home. 

“I opted to stay behind and return home when the team flew to Dublin on Monday. This is a personal decision as I am asthmatic”, said Kelly in a statement released by the FAI. 

“This is a very trying time for everyone in football during the pandemic and I have had to take this decision with my own health in mind.

“I want to wish Stephen Kenny, his players and staff the very best of luck for Wednesday night against Bulgaria.”

Dundalk goalkeeper coach Steve Williams has been drafted in to replace Kelly for the remainder of the camp, and took part in training at Abbottstown yesterday. Williams worked with Kenny for six seasons at Dundalk.

“It was a crazy day yesterday,” the Welshman told Dundalk’s website. “One session I was with Dundalk, and then a few hours later I was with the national team.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for me, personally, and when Stephen called it was a straight yes,” he added. “ I’m really looking forward to seeing the quality in the Irish camp first-hand, especially the goalkeepers.”

The Irish camp has been bedeviled by cases of Covid-19, with Matt Doherty and James McClean testing positive for Covid prior to boarding the flight back to Dublin. Everyone else on board tested negative for the virus. 

Doherty and McClean are the third and fourth recent cases of the virus in the Irish camp, with Callum Robinson and Alan Browne testing positive last week. 

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The withdrawals of Doherty and McClean means Kenny is now without half of the 26-man squad he originally named for Wednesday’s game. The four Covid-positive players are out along with suspended duo Jayson Molumby and Jeff Hendrick; John Egan, Enda Stevens, Seamus Coleman, Adam Idah, Aaron Connolly, Harry Arter, absent with injury; and James McCarthy, who has withdrawn for personal reasons. 

 Shamrock Rovers duo Graham Burke and Aaron McEneff have been called up to the squad along with U21 duo Troy Parrott and Jack Taylor.

Ireland need to at least draw the game to avid relegation to League C of the Nations League.

Republic of Ireland squad vs Bulgaria

Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (West Ham United), Caoimhín Kelleher (Liverpool), Mark Travers (AFC Bournemouth)
Defenders: Kevin Long (Burnley), Shane Duffy (Celtic), Dara O’Shea (West Bromwich Albion), Cyrus Christie (Nottingham Forest), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United), Darragh Lenihan (Blackburn Rovers), Ryan Manning (Swansea City).
Midfielders: Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Robbie Brady (Burnley), Jack Byrne (Shamrock Rovers), Jason Knight (Derby County), Josh Cullen (Anderlecht), Aaron McEneff (Shamrock Rovers), Jack Taylor (Peterborough United).
Attackers: James Collins (Luton Town), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe Wanderers), Sean Maguire (Preston North End), Graham Burke (Shamrock Rovers), Troy Parrott (Millwall, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur).

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Gavin Cooney

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