James McClean has leaped to the defence of Stephen Kenny with a studs-up response to former internationals Stephen Hunt and Gary Breen, both of whom have questioned the new man’s credentials for the job of Ireland manager.
“Stephen Hunt is best known for his clash with Petr Cech, so for him to give his opinion on Stephen is a joke," said McClean, who played for Kenny at Derry City.
"I have seen people like Stephen Hunt saying senior players are going to be worried and this and that but Stephen Hunt’s international career didn’t really pull up many trees,” he told the Derry Journal.
"I have seen a few comments from Gary Breen. I think Gary has spent too much time in England. I’m pretty sure Gary doesn’t know much about the League of Ireland. The fact he said Stephen has failed everywhere other than Dundalk proves that point."
For the record, while Hunt did say he felt obliged to ask why Kenny has never managed in England, he also highlighted his “brilliant record in Ireland” and said that everyone wants to see him do well. In an interview with Sky, he also said he had been impressed with Kenny’s work with the Ireland U21s.
Responding to Kenny’s appointment as successor to Mick McCarthy in an interview with Off The Ball, Gary Breen commented: "People are putting a lot of faith in Stephen but he hasn't the CV to warrant that. Everyone keeps talking about Dundalk but he has failed elsewhere. He has still a lot to prove so don't build him up so much and give him some time.”
He also said that he had met Kenny for the first time before Christmas and had an enjoyable conversation in which he found him “engaging” and “meticulous”.
He added: “From watching his U21s team and talking to (Kenny’s Assistant Coach) Keith Andrews, who is my friend, he was telling me what they're trying to achieve, what they've done well and what they need to improve on.
"That was music to my ears in terms of preparing this squad and leaving no stone unturned. It is exciting, I want to look forward and I'm hoping that he can live up to the billing."