Dropping a man-of-the-match debutant suggests riches beyond the norm but Will Smallbone has his focus trained on being a focal point against the French.
It was natural for the scrutiny to be on Evan Ferguson’s first Ireland start but the man five years his elder making his bow made an equally solid impression against the Latvians.
Smallbone, thriving on loan this season at Stoke City from Southampton, began by operating just behind Ferguson and Michael Obafemi and was involved in both goals which raced them into a 2-0 lead within 17 minutes.
The subsequent drama on a madcap evening, between the concession of two and the scrambled winner by substitute Chiedoize Ogbene, ensued without diminishing the impact on the game by the attacker who ascribed fatigue to his withdrawal for Jeff Hendrick with nine minutes from full-time.
If Wednesday was an audition for Monday’s tougher test, Smallbone marked high, yet it seems Jason Knight’s rest was designed to unleash him against a French midfield harnessed by Real Madrid rock Aurélien Tchouaméni.
“Everyone wants to play in that game – the big one for Irish football,” said the 23-year-old about the France showdown.
“Personally, I’d love to put myself out and be part of the side that faces a team that reached the last World Cup final.
“France have great individuals and talents but I think we need to get out there and be competitive.
“I don't see why we can't play that shape because we created a lot of chances with it against Latvia. We need to be as attacking as we can, while obviously being cautious of their threats.”
Correlating the debrief from Latvia, plenty of it unpalatable, with the gameplan for France is foolhardy as it’s inevitable the team ranked fifth in the world will boss possession when the side situated 128 places below Les Bleus did in patches.
“This will be a different game,” stressed Kenny about Smallbone’s credentials for involvement.
“I'm not saying we're going to throw Will in. I'm all about his technical ability but his running stats at Stoke are the highest in his team, so he's added other parts of his game, and is tactically flexible.”
Whoever does get the nod, there can be no room for the errors which descended the Latvia dry run into a slog.
“If those mistakes are made against France, you will be punished,” confessed Kenny about the gulf in class. “The players understand that.
“We continue to be brave in how we play and believe in what we do.
“Of course, we must make provisions for the strengths France have but we have to be courageous in our play by passing the ball and being fearless in our approach. It is important to have confidence in the way we play.
“We need to put our bodies on the line to secure the result we want because without question France will have strong spells in the game.”