Stephen Kenny hints at tweaks but no 'radical changes' for Armenia

Ireland need a win at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday night. 
Stephen Kenny hints at tweaks but no 'radical changes' for Armenia

BACK TO WORK: Ireland manager Stephen Kenny runs the rule over his side at training today. 

Stephen Kenny intends making more than just the one change that’s enforced for Ireland’s concluding Nations League fixture against Armenia on Tuesday night.

Josh Cullen’s yellow card in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Scotland rules him out, opening up the opportunity for Jeff Hendrick or Conor Hourihane to deputise, but others such as Robbie Brady and Scott Hogan are pushing for inclusion.

Nothing less than victory – to confirm third place in League B1 – will suffice to prevent a debate around Kenny’s future in the manager’s post resurfacing.

Despite another campaign falling short of his own expectations, the focus on next year’s European Championship qualifiers remains his priority.

He’s not countenancing the risk of another defeat relegating Ireland into the dreariness of League C for the next Nations League campaign.

That would also damage the possibility of a backdoor route to Euro 2024 through the playoffs that follow the regulation qualifiers.

“We are considering that,” said Kenny about freshening up his team for the second match in the space of 72 hours.

“We will have one or two changes but not radical. I think the team played well on Saturday.

“It's an important game for us - one we want to win – and we’re determined to do that.

“You have to go and earn these victories because nobody gives you anything.” 

Since Armenia shocked Ireland in June with a 1-0 win in the opening game, they have lost four matches, their latest drubbing coming on Saturday at the hands of Ukraine’s back-up team who prevailed 5-0 in Yerevan.

Manager Joaquín Caparrós is out of contract in November and his continuity depends on repeating the upset on foreign soil.

“We are for sure disappointed about how we played in Armenia,” admitted Kenny.

“These are different circumstances but we know there are lots of aspects we can improve on for this match.

“Playing without fear won’t be a problem. Scotland didn’t put a siege on our goal and I felt there were loads of facets of our play we can take encouragement from.

"We can see the emergence of players and that's been critical for us as a nation, critical as for us as a team.

“They are on an upward curve in their careers and will only improve when they get into the European Championship qualifiers from March to November next year.

“We are not naïve to suggest that there aren’t areas we can improve in but players have got themselves into our team from their performances at club level.

"In a year's time, they will be even better, you can see that and that's by design.”

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