Kenny’s dilemma: a look at Ireland’s current squad

The World Cup qualifiers are coming in 6 weeks. So, it’s time to assess the majority of Ireland’s players (26) that are most likely to feature under Kenny at the start of this campaign. Much has been made of Kenny’s poor start, the coronavirus absences and player injuries. Hopefully this time Kenny has a full-strength squad to choose from, but he is still going to be faced with the stark reality that most of our players are not regulars and bar one or two of them they are not exactly pulling up trees at club level. In this writer’s humble opinion this is the worst squad ever to go into a World Cup campaign by a long distance. So, while Kenny deserves criticism some perspective is badly needed, and he will need this whole World Cup campaign to turn things around. If you want to chance your arm at online casinos, then head over to Paradisoroom.

Darren Randolph – West Ham
He is 2nd choice and has played a handful of games. Currently injured. He is Kenny’s first choice still and rightly so.

Caoimhin Kelleher – Liverpool
One of the few bright sparks in a grim picture has been Kelleher’s rise to Number 2 for Liverpool. With Allison Beeker out, Kelleher was given his Champions League debut away to Ajax in December where he made some crucial saves in a 1-0 win. He has played 7 games and has made some important saves. His distribution of the ball from the back is excellent and this is the one key area where he has a big advantage over Randolph.

Seamus Coleman – Everton
Started the season as first choice right back but got injured and hasn’t been able to win back his place. He was in good form prior to his injury and he is highly regarded by manager Carlo Ancellotti, but Mason Holgate has been excellent for Everton so Coleman will have to bide his time, he is at least been regularly brought on as a sub in games. He played very well in an attacking role when he came on as a sub, in Everton’s, FA Cup 5-4 win against Spurs.

Shane Duffy – Celtic
Duffy joined Celtic, his boyhood team in a loan move from Brighton, which was expected to help deliver a 10 in a row league victory. It has been without doubt one of the worst moves imaginable. Celtic have been terrible and are miles behind Rangers. Duffy’s form has been just as bad and he has been blamed by many Celtic fans for it. He is a player shot of all confidence.

Despite his Celtic woes, he played reasonably well for Ireland in Autumn. But he is not a Kenny player as he is not too comfortable playing out from the back. He could still be 1st choice in the game against Serbia but it is more likely that one of our other defenders like O’Shea will take his place over the course of the campaign. He needs to leave Celtic immediately. A move to Cardiff under Mick McCarthy would be a good place to rebuild his confidence.

John Egan – Sheffield United
A stalwart for United last season, but it’s not been as good this year and he is currently injured. Rock bottom of the Premier League and guaranteed to be relegated. The Blades though are still a good team and manager Chris Wilder will still be there next season. Egan might be sold at the end of the year as there would be a lot of clubs happy to buy him.

Enda Stevens – Sheffield United
Still the regular left wing back for Sheffield United, has suffered as much in form as the team as a whole but he still is a regular starter in the Premier League, which very few other Irish players can lay claim to.

Matt Doherty – Tottenham Hotspurs
Last season at Wolves, Doherty was Ireland’s best player for his club. His big move to Spurs has been a disappointment. Having started out as 1st choice right back he has lost his place to Serge Aurier. Doherty usually starts in the cup games but his performances have been fairly average. Under Mourinho’s risk adverse style of play, Doherty’s best attributes have been curtailed. Another Irish player out of the first team and out of form.

Other defensive options
Ciaran Clarke – has got himself back into the Newcastle side and is playing very well.
Kevin Long – solid back up for Burnley in central defence. Has played 10 games this season.
Dara O’Shea – has played 20 games which is brilliant for a 21 year old, but West Brom have conceded loads of goals and they will be relegated to the Championship. He is versatile and has played right back recently.

Jeff Hendrick – Newcastle United
He has started a lot of games for Newcastle and has scored 2 goals but if you speak to Newcastle fans they are suitably unimpressed. And here’s the depressing news he has probably been Ireland’s best midfielder for his club in the Premier League.

Conor Hourihane – Aston Villa
Dropped and rarely gets a run out for a Villa team which has improved greatly from last season where they just about avoided relegation. A player that looks likely to move in the Summer.

James McCarthy – Crystal Palace
Started for Ireland under Kenny before injury and played well. He Has lost his place at Crystal Palace and has been used sparingly, while a move away isn’t likely just yet, a change of fortune and some game time are a must.

James McClean – Stoke
Has improved as the season has progressed and is a starter for Stoke. Just 2 goals for the season which is low by his standards.

Robbie Brady – Burnley
Brady’s ‘resurgence’ at Burnley, which sees him now as just about a regular starter (he does get subbed a lot). He has had a long few years of injuries so maybe this season will be a catalyst for him. It’s a sad state of affairs when Brady’s situation is looked upon as a real positive for the Ireland team.

Alan Browne – Preston North End
A regular for a Preston currently in mid table. He is having a good season, and he is one player that might step up and make himself a starter under Kenny, at 25 years of age he can hopefully kick on from here.

Other midfield options
Josh Cullen, has been excellent since his move to Anderlecht, Belgium in October 2020. Definitely has the potential to break into the Irish midfield.
Daryl Horgan, played well for Kenny in Autumn so he will be in the next few Ireland squads. Has performed ok for Wycombe but only one goal is disappointing.
Jack Byrne, he was in the periphery of Kenny’s squads after an excellent season with Shamrock Rovers, an unusual move to Apoel Nicosia under Mick McCarthy hasn’t worked out just as planned as Mick was sacked after 9 games. He has started games but been subbed off at half time, still early days to be writing of his Cypriot move.

Jayson Molumby. He has 1 minute of Premier League football and could do with a loan move for some regular game time. He is highly regarded at Brighton and is still young at 21.

Jason Knight. A surprise for an Irish midfielder as he starts all his games for Derby and is central to their survival. He played a little bit under Kenny but could be one to cement himself as a starter over the World Cup campaign. Derby might have to sell players due to financial difficulties so he might be a Premier League player next season.
Callum O’Dowda: not having a great season with Bristol City

Adam Idah – Norwich City
His is still only 20. And this season he was always a back up striker at Norwich, and has been injured for the past three months. He has just returned and did get a subs appearance. Fingers crossed.

Aaron Connolly – Brighton Hove and Albion
He is in and out of the first team and always gets subbed off when he starts, but he is at least getting game time and scoring the odd goal. You just feel that if he had 10 full games in a row he would be flying but football doesn’t work out like that, has also been missing games with niggly injuries which doesn’t help.

Shane Long – Bournemouth
Barely played for Southampton and got a loan move to Bournemouth. Has played 3 times there. He wasn’t in Kenny’s initial squads but such is the dearth of strikers available, Long getting games and scoring for Bournemouth would be a serious double rainbow.

Callum Robinson – West Brom
Has played in a lot of games for his club, but still only has two goals for the season (scored 2 v Chelsea) and has played on the wings. Another striker that can’t score.

Seanie Maguire – Preston North End
Another player in and out of the 1st team. Has scored three goals.

Troy Parrott – Tottenham Hotspur
Ireland fans have been following his every move the past two years as they eagerly anticipate the great white hope to become the next Robbie Keane. Bear in mind he has just turned 19. A terrible loan to Millwall ended and he has now gone on loan to Ipswich in League 1. If Parrott needed to learn how quickly you can drop down the divisions in football, these loan moves will be a valuable lesson.

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