Judging by the fan reaction, Stephen Kenny’s latest squad announcement is a bit of a flop.
Dave and Martin discussed it on our latest episode (available here https://linktr.ee/TheGreenMachinePodcast) and emphasised that friendlies are the perfect time to experiment and freshen things up which is definitely needed after a terrible Nations League campaign.
Stephen Kenny’s side have become a model of inconsistency and rather than blooming some alternative talent to help his side find their grove again, he has gone with predictability in what looks like a missed opportunity to stretch the player pool and see how some few faces can cope at senior international level.
Friendlies are becoming rarer and this unique window could pass Stephen Kenny by with him learning absolutely nothing new about what is available to him. We look at several players who missed out on the squad who fans will be baffled by their exclusions.
Ryan Manning (Swansea City)
Has done everything physically possible to get back in the Ireland squad since his exclusion last time out but has been oddly overlooked in what is a problem position for Ireland. Ryan Manning’s screamer of a finish last week looked like it was perfectly timed for Stephen Kenny’s squad announcement but somehow, the 26 year old isn’t even on standby despite being one of Ireland best players at club level this season.
Conor Coventry (West Ham United)
Perhaps the player most were surprised to see excluded. Understandable his lack of minutes would count against him but what better opportunity to provide those minutes then now? Especially considering the fact he can hold the midfield where Ireland have no depth if Josh Cullen is unavailable. Coventry actually has more combined first team minutes this season than Evan Ferguson who has been brought in despite several options up front even with injuries.
Sammie Szmodics (Blackburn Rovers)
Ireland’s in form player at the moment with promotion chasing Blackburn has 3 goals from midfield this season and looks like an alternative that would be a welcome addition to Stephen Kenny. Will be scratching his head as to what he will have to do to get an Ireland call-up considering the likes of Jamie McGrath has struggled at a lower level that Szmodics is thriving in.
CJ Hamilton (Blackpool)
Another player in seriously good form in the Championship for Blackpool, CJ Hamilton’s omission os perhaps more understandable with Callum O’Dowda, Robbie Brady and James McClean all in the squad. Offers the pace that Stephen Kenny wants his team to play with and having got a goal and two assists in recent weeks, it is strange he hasn’t been considered.
Joe Hodge (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Like Coventry, Hodge has more first team minutes than Even Ferguson this season but misses out despite a serious lack of quality options in midfield. Hodge is a future Ireland star and this is a missed opportunity to give him some early exposure to the senior set up. If anything, it would do his chances of more club minutes no harm should he be able to call himself a full Irish international at 20.
Connor Ronan (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
It was concerning that Connor Ronan hadn’t featured a minute for Wolves this season but off the back of his Premier League debut and a League Cup outing, it is a shame this momentum wasn’t kept going by an Ireland debut next week. Ronan is a talented player that was so key to Kenny at under-21 level and could offer a different outlet to the Irish manager that simply isn’t available in the selected midfield group.