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Stephen Kenny says there will be no 'radical' changes for Armenia clash

Josh Cullen will miss the game through suspension.

Stephen Kenny.
Stephen Kenny.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

STEPHEN KENNY WILL make few alterations to his starting team for tomorrow’s Nations League game clash with Armenia at the Aviva Stadium. 

Ireland must avoid defeat to preserve their League B status in what is the final game in the group, with Josh Cullen the only absentee through suspension. Kenny has a fully fit squad otherwise, but says he will not indulge in mass rotation, citing the quality of the performance in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Scotland. 

“We will have one or two changes I would say, but not radical. I think the team played well on Saturday.” 

In Cullen’s absence, Kenny was circumspect as to whether he will replace him with another midfielder and retain his 3-5-2 formation, or instead bring in a forward and revert to the 3-4-2-1 that he played prior to the Scotland victory in June. 

“There is a misconception that 3-5-2 gives you greater protection, and 3-4-2-1 is more attacking. Neither are more attacking or defensive, they are just different ways of playing. We don’t consider one more attacking than the other. So we’ll have to wait to see tomorrow. We are capable of playing both systems and we don’t like to tell our opposition in advance how we are going to play.”

Ireland played the 3-4-2-1 in the wretched opening-game loss to Armenia in Yerevan, and have collected just four points since, beating Scotland 3-0 at home and drawing 1-1 with Ukraine in Poland. Armenia, meanwhile, have collapsed since their opening-day win, losing all of their next four games on an aggregate score of 14-1. They lost 5-0 to a much-changed Ukraine side last Saturday. 

“There are different circumstances”, said Kenny in reference to that loss in Yerevan, “but that wasn’t a good performance, we know that so there are lots of aspects of play where we can improve tomorrow night.” 

Ireland have often struggled against deep-lying, lower-ranked sides under Kenny – drawing at home to Azerbaijan and losing at home to Luxembourg last year – but he insists fear is not an issue. 

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“I don’t think that’s an issue, playing without fear. We are disappointed about how we played in Armenia, for sure. We’re looking forward to tomorrow night, we’ll make sure we’re ready. We’ll have to earn the win. Armenia are in League B and are third seeds in Euros on merit. They won their group to get here so we have to go and produce a strong performance to win.” 

Armenia are boosted by the return from suspension of Eduard Spertsyan, who scored the winning goal when the sides met in June. 

– First published 11.50, 26 September 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney  / reports from the Aviva Stadium

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