Stephen Kenny is planning for a punishing four-game series of matches in June by promoting rookies from the Championship, like uncapped pair Danny McNamara (Millwall) and CJ Hamilton (Blackpool), after injuries to key players, but Kenny is not planning to turn his back on the old guard.
hile injury will likely rule out James McClean and Matt Doherty for June’s Nations League games, the Ireland boss has hailed the resilience of Doherty and Séamus Coleman for turning around difficult club situations.
Coleman has been questioned and dropped at times this season by his club, while Doherty, who is seeing a specialist in London today to assess a knee injury that should see him miss the rest of the season, appeared to have no future at Spurs a matter of months ago, only for him to win over a previously sceptical Antonio Conte with a run of impressive displays.
“I thought Séamus actually was in really good form when Frank Lampard came in first, and then just to have a bad game that was live on TV, he obviously got a lot of criticism and people then believed that’s how he’s been playing for six or eight weeks when he hadn’t, he’d actually been playing very well up to that,” says Kenny, referring to Everton’s 5-0 hammering by Tottenham, when Coleman was heavily criticised by TV pundit Jamie Carragher.
“So he got criticism, but the issue with Séamus is not that he’s not at the level. He is at the level, it’s just sometimes he’s put himself out there when he’s not been 100pc, putting the team first, and he’s not one to speak up, it’s ‘if you want me out there and the physio says I’m right, I’ll play’, so he’s come back very quickly from injury and probably when he wasn’t right. And I’ve seen him in some matches when he knew he wasn’t right. He’s so selfless that way.”
With Shane Duffy currently sidelined by injury, McClean potentially out for the season, Andrew Omobamidele gone until next term and Dara O’Shea out of the picture at West Brom, Kenny needs defensive options, hence Millwall full-back McNamara getting name-checked as well as new recruit, Blackpool’s London-born but Waterford-raised winger Hamilton.
“There were question marks about Matt (Doherty). I didn’t share the reservations, a lot of people had reservations about Matt, but I didn’t. He is a real quality player,” says Kenny. “He’s shown a bit of character. One or two managers, he wasn’t part of the plans, they spent massive money, a big fee on Emerson Royal. They’ve got a lot of options there apart from him. He’s done well to stay in and he’s an important option for us. But we’ve lost him if we’ve lost him, and that’s the way it is. We can’t dwell on it. It’s part of the situation. Others have got to step up now. We’ve just got to manage that and see.”
Stephen Kenny was speaking at a media event at The Showgrounds in Sligo to promote the LOI Show on LOITV. The LOI Show airs weekly for free on