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‘Troy is a number nine… He wouldn’t be ecstatic about moving to the left’

The Tottenham striker had to do a job for the team as Ireland beat Sweden last night.

Troy Parrott pictured during last night's match.
Troy Parrott pictured during last night's match.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A DRAMATIC SECOND-HALF improvement saw Ireland beat Sweden 4-1 in their Euros qualifier at Tallaght Stadium last night.

A lacklustre first 45 minutes saw the hosts fall a goal behind, before a rejuvenated team came out after the break.

Speaking after the game, Irish boss Stephen Kenny explained some of the reasons for his side getting significantly better as the game progressed.

Jayson Molumby, who had been a doubt before the match, was not his usual self owing to fitness issues and was replaced by Connor Ronan at half-time.

Conor Masterson also aggravated a thigh strain in the first half that he had previously suffered from, with Liam Scales coming on in his place.

Ireland also changed shape slightly at the interval. They had begun with Adam Idah and Troy Parrott up front and more or less a 4-4-2 formation. The lack of an extra body in there meant the Irish team didn’t control midfield as they invariably do.

Ronan’s arrival at the break saw him take up the number 10 position, with Tottenham youngster Parrott switching to the left-hand side. Suddenly, Kenny’s side looked a different team, and the Swedes were well beaten in the end as Ireland consolidated their place at the top of Group 1.

“I think Sweden were deservedly winning at half time,” the Irish boss admitted. “They looked physically stronger and more athletic than we did; it’s difficult to explain why we played like that because we haven’t played like that before. 

Ronan, in particular, made an impact after being introduced, producing two assists and generally adding more creativity and life to the Irish midfield.

Connor is a very dynamic, intelligent player, very selfless. High-speed running and his stat sport statistics are just off the chart, he puts in a huge shift always. He plays simple passes well.

“We have Daniel Mandroiu, who didn’t play tonight, who is a very, very creative player, but Daniel plays sort of eye-of-the-needle passes which, when they come off, are brilliant, but Connor is a different sort of number 10; he gets on the ball more frequently and knits the play quite well.

“The passes that he plays are actually quite simple pass, but he made them look simple, because he was out of carrying the ball quickly, moving his feet jockey, dribbling quickly, scampering, and just getting the correct timing of a pass for runners

“We had Adam Idah, [Zack] Elbouzedi and Troy. So we had willing runners and he was able to find the right weight on those passes, which is a skill in itself that shouldn’t be underestimated.”

connor-ronan Connor Ronan impressed after coming off the bench at half-time. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Kenny, meanwhile, acknowledged that Parrott prefers to play as a number nine rather than out on the left, but added that the Spurs man was more than happy to do a job that benefited the team on the night.

“Probably Troy is a number nine. He plays there for Spurs, but they have system of play with Harry Kane where you play as a number nine, but drop right into midfield all the time and link the play and have Lucas Moura and Son who make these darting runs in behind him from wide.

“It’s unorthodox, not many teams play like that, so Troy is schooled in that way of playing, but what he is is a brilliant, brilliant finisher and he has great instincts for getting into goal scoring opportunities and smells his chance and he has a different way of scoring goals, it’s great to have that, he’s only 17, it’s amazing.

“But he had to put in a shift for the team, he had to be selfless tonight. He wouldn’t be ecstatic about moving to the left. He wouldn’t complain either, but their right back is a raider, a good player, who gets forward well, he’s one of the best attacking players, he had to do that shift up and down.

“But what it allowed us to do was play three quarters of the game on the right-hand side. What he did was play Zack high on the right, and Lee [O'Connor] is a raider and Troy came in on the left when we had the ball, we were able to overload that area.

So the three goals came from the right wing, but he was involved in it really for some of the build-up for that on the left. We scored four, we could have scored eight I feel and two of the four of the goals came from that position. All our chances seemed to come from that area.

“It was the players, their individual skill and passing ability. Physically, we were giving away a lot. Jason Knight and Connor Ronan [are smaller] compared to their players who are physical and quite strong. But we had sharp football intelligence.”

In addition, shortly before kick-off, it emerged that Mauricio Pochettino had been sacked by Tottenham. Kenny said he was unsure if Parrott was even aware of this news ahead of kick-off.

There were also substantial doubts about whether the 17-year-old would be involved, having been on the bench for the Irish senior team against Denmark on Monday, in addition to playing last week in Mick McCarthy’s side’s game with New Zealand. However, Kenny was determined to play the Spurs youngster if at all possible.

We sort of put a request in to see the lie of the land if he didn’t come on. It’s an unusual sort of situation, not one I’ve been in before. When someone of his ability comes along, you definitely take him, you definitely play him.

“But you’re working on other stuff. Every throw-in you get, you’re working on stuff. Because maybe Connor Ronan knows what we’re doing when we’re getting a throw-in so you retain possession. But every throw-in we were getting in the first half, we were giving it away, it was crazy stuff. I think when we played in Sweden, [Troy] came on in the number 10 position, got two unbelievable of goals, nearly got a hat-trick — when a 17-year-old does that, that’s special, but tonight was a real team performance.”

And despite a new manager coming in with his own ideas at Tottenham, Kenny is confident Parrott will be able to adapt to whatever demands are placed on him, though the Irish boss was speaking before Jose Mourinho had been confirmed as Spurs’ new manager.

“He is very adaptable. Obviously, goalscorers are rare enough so you have to grasp them — natural, instinctive goalscorers, and he has that.”

- Originally published at 11.23

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Paul Fennessy

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