"He's good to watch" - Kenny says Keane will make a fine addition

Stephen Kenny says there is tangible good will behind his stewardship of the Republic of Ireland tea...


"He's good to watch" - Kenny says Keane will make a fine addition

Stephen Kenny says there is tangible good will behind his stewardship of the Republic of Ireland team. 

An Ireland Thinks poll this week found that 80 per cent of the Irish public support the job that Kenny is doing as Ireland manager.

This is despite a run of 16 games that's seen him garner just one victory - and that in a friendly with Andorra in June.

Kenny named his squad on Thursday for next month's World Cup qualifier away to Azerbaijan, and the subsequent home friendly with Qatar.

There was yet another new face, in the form of Wigan Athletic striker Will Keane. While fit-again Enda Stevens and Chiedoze Ogbene both return to the fold.

Regarding the results of that survey, Kenny says feels there is a groundswell of goodwill behind the team.

"The atmosphere in the game against Serbia in the Aviva was exceptional," he told OTB Sports, "The support got behind the team regardless that we were 1-0 down. Really connecting with the players.

"It's from the ground up. We've obviously introduced a high number of players into the squad in the last 7 or 8 months.

"And it's quite organic because there's players that have come from clubs throughout the country. It's a reflection of all the good work done by coaches around the country.

"A lot of the players have emerged with mixed results - some of them better than others.

"People are excited by an introduction of a high number of players. I think the team is evolving, and we want it to get better.

"We need more victories, we know that. We need to turn them draws into wins.

"When I go out through the airport, and travel to England... there's a lot of people excited by the team. They want it to work - they want the team to really evolve and do well.

"We all want to improve our results, and hopefully we can do that in this window."

Will's Keane

Wigan striker Keane is just the latest addition to Kenny's panel.

The 28-year old former England underage international began the process of switching his international allegiance to Ireland in 2019, when Mick McCarthy was still manager.

Keane is brother of Everton defender Michael, and has scored 4 goals in 9 League One appearances for the Latics this season.

Kenny has been to the DW to watch the striker this season, and is looking forward to working with him at close quarters next week.

"Will has had a consistent run of games this year - he's probably having one of his best seasons," the manager told reporters.

"We managed to see quite a bit of him.

"He links the play well, he's playing as a second striker at Wigan. They were top of the league up to... they got beaten by Sheffield Wednesday, obviously, on Tuesday night - I was at the game.

"He leads the line quite well, and he has an appreciation of players around him, good weight of pass and good vision. He can score headed goals, and different types of goals so he's having a good season so far."

The manager says he's already spoken with Keane, and that his call-up has been a while in coming.

"To be fair, it's not something that I've initiated," Kenny said, "Will has been qualified for the last couple of years now.

"I did have a conversation with him. I met him after one of the games, and had a good chat with him recently.

"Actually earlier in the season we had a good chat, and then his form has been very consistent.

"I think he had injuries in the last couple of years, and maybe he wasn't playing as consistently.

"He's good to watch, he's a very clever player - good touch, and good awareness. He's an intelligent footballer.

"If he can keep getting the run of games... he seems to be enjoying his football at Wigan, and doing well. It is League One, admittedly, but he's impressed. Any time we've gone to see him, he's impressed us. He's been important for them this season."

Stevens back

Stevens' return is a welcome one, with the Sheffield United wing-back having missed the last six Ireland games with a back injury.

"Enda's been out for a while alright," Kenny said, "He's been a very consistent performer for Ireland.

"Obviously he's had an osteitis-pubis injury, but he's come back and played 90-minutes, 20-minutes and 70-minutes.

"He can play left centre-back, left wing-back or left-back so he certainly gives us options."

Brian O’Driscoll on OTB | Sexton vs Carbery | Make or break for Munster’s coaches | How to avert future disasters for the women’s team

Read more about

Azerbaijan Chiedoze Ogbene Enda Stevens Qatar Republic Of Ireland Stephen Kenny Will Keane World Cup Qualifiers

You might like