Stephen Kenny was speaking earlier today. Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Club v Country

Kenny: 'I haven’t spoken to Jurgen Klopp but the medical teams have been in constant contact'

Ireland’s manager insists a one-on-one chat with the Liverpool boss was not required to smooth out the issue over Caoimhin Kelleher’s injury.

STEPHEN KENNY INSISTS a one-on-one chat with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has not been required to smooth out the issue regarding Caoimhin Kelleher’s continued absence with injury.

The Reds boss expressed his frustration with the Ireland camp following the June international window, during which time the Anfield boss says Kelleher tweaked a groin injury against Ukraine before departing on his summer holiday.

The 23-year-old returned to pre-season training with his club and suffered a recurrence of the issue, which lead to Klopp hitting out at the FAI’s handling of the matter.

Kenny admitted last month that “he was caught by surprise” by the German’s revelation but maintains no dialogue between the two managers has taken place, with the medical departments instead sharing information.

Kelleher has not been included in Kenny’s 24-man squad for the upcoming Nations League games with Scotland and Armenia, but the Ireland boss says he will be fit sooner rather than later.

caoimhin-kelleher Caoimhin Kelleher in action in June. Tom Maher / INPHO Tom Maher / INPHO / INPHO

“No, I haven’t spoken to Jurgen Klopp but the medical teams have been in constant contact so that’s been evident,” Kenny said.

“With Caoimhin, if Caoimhin tweaked something in the game against Ukraine it wasn’t evident by his performance. He performed very well and done everything really well. I honestly wasn’t aware of him being injured at that time.

“He trained with Liverpool when he went back for pre-season and got injured, but certainly it was something that we weren’t aware of it. The good thing is he’s making good progress and is back very soon, and should be back for the next camp for sure.”

Swansea City’s Michael Obafemi has been included, despite his club boss Russell Martin omitting him from the last two Championship outings as a result of the fallout from Burnley’s failed attempt to sign him on transfer deadline day.

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.

“Obviously he has been omitted from the last couple of squads after the deadline-day bids and so forth. It’s not ideal, we want our players playing and coming in in good form.

“It’s just one of those things, I’m sure he’ll be back playing shortly. We’re delighted to have him in the squad because we have watched him a few times this season and he has played well, he has been at the level he finished off last season.”

michael-obafemi Michael Obafemi. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Three players who have been recalled by Kenny include veteran Robbie Brady, defender Andrew Omobamidele, and winger Callum O’Dowda, with the Ireland boss praising their struggles through respective injury battles.

“It’s 18 months out of the squad for Robbie. He is one of our better players for sure, all things being equal. But things haven’t been equal for him because his body has let him down, frequently, and that has been most unfortunate.

“It’s just good to see him, he’s only in on absolute merit. We do admire him as a player and the talent he possesses but he’s in because his performances for Preston have been different really for a left wing back. He offers you different things, he’s a very creative passer from that position, quality crossing and he just sees things so early and has played well in that position to date this season.

I’ve been a few times to see Preston obviously and I’ve enjoyed his performances.”

Omobamidele has re-established himself with Norwich at the top of the Championship and Kenny added: “For Andrew it’s a different because when you’re a young player and never been injured it’s new, it’s uncharted territory.

“It’s a stress fracture, or potential stress fracture in your back. That creates uncertainty. He had a long period out after bursting on the scene, had a really exceptional start to his international career and only played seven club games when we played him, and he didn’t disappoint.

“We knew what we were getting and he really excelled.”

andrew-omobamidele-applauds-fans-after-the-game Andrew Omobamidele. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

O’Dowda, meanwhile, has a new club in Cardiff City and also seems to have re-invented himself as someone who can operate in various positions, with Kenny adamant he could become a key figure when the European Championship qualifier begin next year.

“He is talented, left footed and a direct dribbler. But he has not been able to get a run of games with his previous club Bristol City. He got a really bad hamstring injury and it reoccurred.

It’s been a really difficult period for Callum so he’s been through a lot because he’s had a few false dawns where it looked like he was getting back and then it went again. Sometimes you get that with explosive players, so he’s been through a lot.

“He’s moved to Cardiff and started the season well. He played in four different positions – on the right wing, the left wing, as a left back and wing back.

“He’s quite a versatile player and I would hope that he would be potentially someone that’s important, a significant player for us in the qualifications for the European Championships between March and November. I would hope that he would be involved.”

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