Kenny backs 'very important' McGoldrick to help Ireland's youngsters flourish

The Ireland boss also commended James McCarthy, Harry Arter, Jayson Molumby and Shane Long.

david-mcgoldrick David McGoldrick has become a key player for club and country. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND manager Stephen Kenny has tipped David McGoldrick to play a significant role in aiding the development of the country’s next generation of attacking talent.

Ireland have some promising youngsters waiting to establish themselves at international level. Aaron Connolly, Michael Obafemi and Troy Parrott have already made their senior debuts, while Adam Idah has been in impressive form for the U21s.

McGoldrick, who turns 33 in November, has only become a regular for Ireland in the ongoing European Championship qualifying campaign. However, the Sheffield United striker was one of the team’s top performers during Mick McCarthy’s second tenure.

Although he has yet to score in the Premier League this season, his importance to the Blades was evidenced by the club’s decision to reward him with a two-year contract extension last week.

“He really is at the peak of his career now because he’s the focal point in a team competing for a Champions League place,” Kenny told FAI TV of McGoldrick, who opened his international account with a late equaliser against Switzerland last September. “People say he’s not a prolific scorer but he got 15 goals to get Sheffield United promoted.

“He’s a creator of goals and we’ve got a lot of good young strikers coming through. I think he’ll complement them, with the attributes, the awareness, his technical ability and his vision. He’ll complement those players coming through and he can have a big impact on their careers, so yes, David is very important to us.”

Kenny received confirmation yesterday that Ireland’s European Championship play-off against Slovakia will take place in Bratislava on 8 October. Should they emerge victorious, a place at next summer’s tournament will then be at stake for the Boys in Green in an away game on 12 November against Northern Ireland or Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The former Dundalk manager will have his first outings as Ireland boss in the Uefa Nations League. A trip to face Bulgaria on 3 September will be followed by the visit of Finland to the Aviva Stadium three days later.

stephen-kenny Stephen Kenny, who has replaced Mick McCarthy as Republic of Ireland senior manager. Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

When Kenny was asked if there are likely to be additions to the squad used by Mick McCarthy in the campaign thus far, injury-plagued Crystal Palace midfielder James McCarthy was the first player he mentioned.

“The squad is there on merit but it’s great to have players available for selection and increased competition. I think James McCarthy, an exceptional talent, the fact that he has played 22 games for Crystal Palace this year, we want to increase our options and hopefully he can get a run of games without injury. That would be great for him again.”

Kenny also namechecked Bournemouth (on loan at Fulham) midfielder Harry Arter, Southampton striker Shane Long and Brighton & Hove Albion (on loan at Millwall) midfielder Jayson Molumby, who he appointed captain during his time in charge of the Ireland U21s.

“He [Arter] is having a good season with Fulham and we’ll see how they go between now and the end of the season, whether they get promoted or not. Jayson Molumby captained the U21s and he’s also trying to get Millwall promoted at the moment, so he’s in the process of that.

“It’s good to increase our options and it’s good to have a level of competition. Competition drives people to be even better and I think that’s very important. To have that element of competition is exactly what we want.

“Shane Long, for example – I saw Shane play not long before the lockdown for Southampton. He scored against Tottenham in the FA Cup in the new stadium and he scored a few goals in that period, so again, having that element of competition is important. We need competition in all areas.”

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