Stephen Kenny insists Aaron Connolly is injured - despite claims from Brighton manager

The spotlight has shone on Connolly’s status since he was an unused substitute for the most recent internationals against Azerbaijan and Qatar.
Stephen Kenny insists Aaron Connolly is injured - despite claims from Brighton manager

Ireland's Aaron Connolly: Not in the 26-man squad. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Stephen Kenny insists Aaron Connolly hasn’t been axed from his Ireland squad – rather his omission for the concluding World Cup qualifiers is injury related.

The eight-times capped Brighton and Hove Albion attacker was the notable absentee from the 26-man panel named by the Ireland manager for the fixtures against Portugal at Aviva Stadium next Thursday and Luxembourg away three days later.

The spotlight has shone on Connolly’s status since he was an unused substitute for the most recent internationals against Azerbaijan and Qatar.

It was the first time since Kenny worked with the attacker, stretching back to June 2019 during his tenure as U21 manager, that he hadn’t got gametime.

Despite Connolly’s Brighton manager Graham Potter indicating today that his player had been dropped from the international fold, Kenny asserted that Connolly is simply unavailable for fitness reasons.

“It was great to see Aaron play 90 minutes against Leicester City in the League Cup last week but, to be honest, he’s had a heel issue since then,” said Kenny, who turned 50 at the weekend.

“He missed the Premier League game at Liverpool on Saturday and hasn’t trained since. On that basis, he’s been left out.”

Regarding the conflict with Potter’s explanation articulated during his press conference held simultaneously, Kenny said: “That was quick! I’ve a good relationship with Graham and spoke to him in midweek. He hasn’t been able to train for Brighton.

"Technically, he could possibly be available for next Thursday but I spoke to Aaron yesterday and he didn’t feel he was really right.”

Less surprising absentees from the squad, owing to their struggles for minutes on the club circuit, are Harry Arter, Liam Scales and Cyrus Christie.

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