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'We had to say to him: you need to knock on your manager’s door'

Stephen Kenny has suggested Adam Idah would benefit from more regular football at club level.

Adam Idah celebrates a goal against Sweden.
Adam Idah celebrates a goal against Sweden.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND U21S BOSS Stephen Kenny praised Adam Idah for his performance as they beat Sweden 4-1 on Tuesday night, but also suggested the Norwich youngster could benefit from more regular football at club level.

Like most of his team-mates, Idah was quiet in the first half, but really came alive in the second period.

The 18-year-old Cork native showed explosive pace to beat his marker and set up Lee O’Connor for the first Ireland goal, and then converted the second after a cross from Zach Elbouzedi.

“Adam Idah has got a lot of pace, which is a brilliant attribute to have as a centre forward now, and Adam is only 18,” Kenny said. “Most of the Swedish players are all 20 and they are all playing for first teams in Sweden and one or two other countries, and it is a good league.

“I know there is not enough of our players playing every week, but hopefully it won’t be too long before a lot of them are.”

And Kenny also acknowledged that Idah delivered a much-improved display after the break as his team grew into the game.

“Chalk and cheese for Adam tonight. The first half he was very quiet, their certain halves were physically big men and he struggled against them. The service wasn’t great, overhit passes and underhit passes and he struggled to get into the game, compared to when he played in Armenia and against Italy here, but in the second half he did much, much better.

He needed a goal, and goals have been in short supply in recent times. Underage he was a prolific scorer, so I was delighted to see him score, because it has been bothering him that he hasn’t scored [in a while].

“But he is so quick and has the physical attributes to hold the ball up, and when he is playing regularly, he looks a really, really good player. It’s just about getting the level of consistency in his performances.”

Idah’s goal last night was his first of the Euros campaign since scoring in the 3-0 win over Luxembourg back in March. 

The teenager has been in and around the first team at Norwich, playing once this season in their League Cup loss to Crawley, but he generally can’t get into the side ahead of the likes of Finland international Teemu Pukki, who has scored 13 goals in 18 appearances in all competitions.

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Source: FAI TV/YouTube

Kenny suggested the player was suffering to a degree due to a lack of game time at club level, even if there are obvious benefits to training with the Canaries first team.

“He is not playing matches at the moment, and we had to say to him: ‘you need to knock on your manager’s door and say you want to play U23s’ and he did that and he played one or two games.

“Because in the previous camp, he had gone five weeks without playing a game, because he is on the bench every week for Norwich but not coming on and not playing.

The way it works over there, once you are part of the first team, you don’t always play U23s, because you are part of the training group, and I know myself, when I do a lot of 11v11, you lose your players for two days when they go and play U23s and that is two training days and you end up with players of lesser standard training and that suffers, so clubs are selfish about that overall.

“I’m saying that as a general point, and the clubs don’t like to release their players to the 23s for that reason.”

Overall though, the Irish boss believes Idah has improved in recent months, largely due to the experience he has acquired with first-team training at Norwich.

“I think even since the Toulon tournament [last summer], he has got stronger and his hold-up play has got better, and I think that is a benefit of training with the Norwich first team every day. So to be fair to Norwich, they have done terrific work with him, it is just not easy for a young player to get in and play in the Premier League, but he has been in and around the first team and for one so young, that is progress.”

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Paul Fennessy

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