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WATCH: Kenny hails "extremely composed" new call-up Omobamidele


Stephen Kenny has stressed the importance of regular football to members of his Republic of Ireland squad. 

He's included four uncapped players in the 27-man panel that will gather for friendlies with Andorra and Hungary next month.

Ireland are still waiting for their first win under Kenny, and he's hoping the more relaxed nature of the upcoming preparations - coupled with easing COVID-19 restrictions - can work to his players' advantage.

"There's been a big shift in international football to having three games in six-days - competitive games, which never ever happened before," the manager told Monday's press conference, "That's new.

"Players used to come in on a Sunday, have five or six days... a lot of time to kill in the five or six days between the Sunday and the Friday or Saturday night match, before they played on the Tuesday.

"Now, that doesn't exist. You're in on Monday... the Premier League have a lot of games [on] Sundays now - five different kick-off times sometimes on a Sunday in lockdown.

"They might only come in on a Monday because they might have been on an 8 o'clock match, or a 6 o'clock match, and they're on a flight and they play Wednesday-Saturday-Tuesday.

"So the dynamic has changed. Some players then, if they're not playing regularly, they don't have the capacity to go with two games in three days if they're not playing regularly at all.

"And you might say 'why not?', because they're going up a level in international football, and you're reaching a level up against Serbia and to go again three days later... for some players who aren't playing, they find that difficult.

"So you do need a squad, particularly for say three games like Portugal, Azerbaijan and Serbia - the intensity of those games, you can't just put the eleven out for the three games. Ideally at club level you can do that if you've everyone playing every week, everyone at the same level of fitness.

"But sometimes we've got players who haven't played in three months, and they're coming in... and that's the nature of where we are.

"I wouldn't be negative about that, because we've got a lot of very positive things happening. A lot of the players have good futures ahead of them, and we want to help them do well, and give them the opportunity... and we want them to do well at international football, and a great chance to enhance their careers as well."

Kenny says the training camp will provide ample time to impress for some of the newer additions to his squad.

Among them are Norwich City's 18-year old centre-back Andrew Omobamidele.

The rangy defender started each of the Canaries' last eight games en route to winning the Championship and, with it, promotion back to the Premier League.

Kenny said his form in that short time could not be ignored.

"He's been accelerated into the senior squad much quicker than we anticipated really," the manager revealed.

"He's only 18-years of age, but he's looked extremely composed and extremely athletic. Obviously, we've seen him with the U17 [Republic of Ireland] team in the European Championships here, and the U19s, and he's gone into the Norwich first-team and looked not out of place.

"Obviously he's benefitted, maybe, from a couple of injuries with more experienced players so it has happened sooner than we anticipated.

"Dan Mandroiu is in the squad because he has very very high technical ability, and [is] an incredibly creative passer capable of scoring goals from outside the box.

"And he's become a more mature person than he was at Brighton at a young age. He's come back and played at Bohemians and now Shamrock Rovers and got himself in a better place physically and mentally and he's a more mature individual."

McGrath's first call-up comes on foot of a 17-goal haul for St. Mirren this season.

Kenny is acutely aware of the 24-year old's capability having brought him to Dundalk from St. Patrick's Athletic in 2017.

"He's been a gradual improver," Kenny said, "Technically excellent.

"Very very good feet - right and left foot - works hard. Obviously scored 17 goals for St. Mirren this year, and has done very well overall.

"Very creative player, and a different type of player to the midfield players that we have."

Ogbene receives his first call-up having played 11-games for Rotherham in a season blighted by a knee injury.

"Having gone from Limerick to England, he had a great season with Rotherham two seasons ago in League One... very very fast, powerful, right winger.

"We don't have that type of player in the squad, he's different to what we've got. Very very quick, and he was very influential in getting Rotherham promoted from League One to the Championship.

"Unfortunately he's been injured for a lot of the year - he had an injury that kept him out for five months - and it limited his availability to Rotherham this year, and I think they missed him.

"He came back towards the end of the season - I'd seen him play - but he'd been mainly [utilised] as a wing-back, or as a centre-forward, but traditionally he's been a right-winger and that's where he does his best work."

Kenny says the likes of Enda Stevens, James McCarthy and Alan Browne have been omitted to give them time to recover after long, hard seasons.

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Read more about

Andorra Andrew Omobamidele Chiedoze Ogbene Danny Mandroiu Hungary Ireland Jamie Mcgrath Republic Of Ireland Stephen Kenny

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