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Dublin: 12°C Wednesday 12 May 2021

Beating Luxembourg 'has to be the objective' as Kenny aims to build on Serbia progress

Stephen Kenny says Troy Parrott will return to the squad with Aaron Connolly out, though was offering no assurances that Mark Travers will keep his place in goal.

Stephen Kenny.
Stephen Kenny.
Image: Nikola Krstic/INPHO

STEPHEN KENNY SAYS Ireland can take a lot of positives from their performance in defeat to Serbia on Wednesday, but their ambition must be to beat Luxembourg in tomorrow night’s World Cup qualifier in Dublin. 

Speaking at his press conference today, Kenny again praised the performance in Belgrade on Wednesday, saying morale is higher in the camp than it had been in the Covid-hampered windows of last Autumn. 

“I felt the players took information on board very quickly and I thought they were excellent overall, a really good performance”, said Kenny. “I watched it back again and reiterated that. The players were very good on the night and we left at least one point behind us and we’re disappointed with that. 

“The atmosphere and the morale is very, very good. It’s different from the other camps, probably because we haven’t had Covid influencing this camp. We have always lost players and it was in the infancy of Covid, in September and October, when people weren’t sure of the impact of it and the impact of it on their families. There was that uncertainty and it decimated our camp.

“This feels different, this feels that morale is very good and relaxed. They played well the other night and were disappointed to lose. We want to put in that level of performance but win tomorrow, that has to be the objective.” 

Aaron Connolly is the latest player out through injury. There was initially some confusion over his availability: the FAI tweeted this afternoon that he was out and had returned to Brighton, though Kenny said in his press conference that Connolly was still with the squad and had a slim chance of playing tomorrow night. He subsequently corrected that, and with Connolly definitely out, Troy Parrott is in line to return to the matchday squad having been omitted in Serbia. 

“Troy knows how highly I regard him and I think he is finding his way at the moment in elite football. He has been terrific for all the international teams and for me as U21 manager he was outstanding.” 

Kenny repeated his line from before the Serbia game that he would not be revealing his team selection ahead of the game, seeking to avoid handing Luxembourg an advantage ahead of kick-off. 

Ahead of the Serbia game, however, Kenny did confirm that Mark Travers would start in goal. He offered no such guarantees today. 

“I’m not picking the team at the moment, we’re not going to confirm whether anyone is in or out at the moment”, said Kenny when asked if he is sticking by Travers. “I haven’t picked the team and it wouldn’t be fair to do it in the media as the players are not aware of the team quite yet.” 

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Travers struggled on his competitive debut in midweek, with Rochdale’s Gavin Bazunu likely next in line for his senior bow if Kenny decides to make a change. 

Meanwhile, there is no guarantee the 3-4-1-2 selection will be retained either, with Kenny saying that the team needs to be adaptable based on availability and opponent. 

“You can’t ignore that possibility. The way you achieve success is generally through continuity, it is a contradiction to say that but you have to adapt depending on the players you have available and the opposition you face.” 



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Gavin Cooney

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