'I’m thankful that he had my back... I’m glad that he said what he said'

Michael Obafemi praises Stephen Kenny for support as he looks to draw a line under club issues at Swansea City.

Stephen Kenny (left) with Michael Obafemi (centre).
Stephen Kenny (left) with Michael Obafemi (centre).
Image: Ben Brady/INPHO

Updated Sep 29th 2022, 8:31 AM

MICHAEL OBAFEMI’S RISE in an Ireland jersey continues, and the strength of bond the young striker has with his international manager became somewhat clearer during this international window.

Well before the 22-year-old produced another magic moment with a long-range goal in front of the south stand at Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night, Stephen Kenny made a point of going to bat for his player.

The Ireland boss could have easily dismissed questions regarding Obafemi’s club situation heading into the final two games of this Nations League campaign.

Instead, he met head on the comments from Swansea City head coach Russell Martin that the forward was “not in the right frame of mind” to be more involved after Burnley’s transfer deadline day attempts to sign him were rebuffed.

michael-obafemi-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-second-goal Obafemi celebrates his goal against Armenia. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I’ve spoken to Michael and like everything else there are two or three sides to every story. Certainly Michael wants to play football, he wants to play for Swansea,” Kenny said when he announced his squad.

It’s just one of those things, I’m sure he’ll be back playing shortly. We’re delighted to have him.”

Martin responded by insisting he was “disappointed” by Kenny’s comments, but the backing was appreciated by Obafemi.

“Yeah, I don’t really need to get into too much detail but I’m thankful that he (Kenny) had my back. I’m here and I’ve done well and that’s the main thing.

“I’m glad that he said what he said but, ultimately, it’s in the past now and we’ve got to move on forward. I just play how I play and glad that I could get the goal [against Armenia] and be back filled with confidence.

“Stephen has put his trust in me and played me back-to-back, and I’m just thankful that I could reward him with a goal.

stephen-kenny-and-michael-obafemi-after-the-game Kenny with Obafemi. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“I mean, obviously I haven’t been playing recently. So, it’s been fantastic to come here and get the minutes in and to get a goal to top it off.”

Obafemi did get sprung from the bench for the final two minutes of Swansea’s 3-0 win over Hull City in the last game before meeting up in Dublin – the crowd’s somewhat lukewarm reception to his substitution not something he wanted to be drawn on.

“Erm, interesting. Obviously, I am a Swansea player and happy there, but the main thing is to just get back playing. And that’s it really.”

Whether he returns to the starting XI away to West Bromwich Albion this Saturday – and a reunion with international teammates Dara O’Shea and Jayson Molumby – remains to be seen, and he reckons his goal-scoring form for Ireland can be no gurantee of playing unless he does so for his club.

Yeah, 100 per cent. We are all fighting for places. We’ve got top strikers. Callum [Robinson], Scott [Hogan], Troy [Parrott], Chieo [Ogbene] so no one is really got their spot.

“It’s just me being confident and trying to maintain my spot, that’s the main thing.”

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Reflecting Tuesday’s haphazard 3-2 win on Tuesday night, Obafemi admitted lessons must be learned, while on the Nations League campaign as a whole he’s already looking ahead to next month’s European Championships’ drawm.

“Eventful [against Armenia]. Erm, I felt like we had a good first 60 minutes, then we got a bit complacent, sloppy, and that’s when they got their two goals. Thanks to Robbie [Brady] we got the three points.

swansea-city-v-hull-city-sky-bet-championship-swansea-com-stadium Swansea City boss Russell Martin. Source: PA

“We’re disappointed with the two goals but, ultimately, we maintained League B so we look forward to the draw and we go from there.”

As trademarks go, Obafemi’s penchant for long-range screamers is

“Just instinct. As a striker, get the touch out of your feet and hit it. And yeah, it went in, that’s the main thing.”

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