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Kevin Kilbane Bewildered By Criticism Of Ireland Player After France Defeat

Kevin Kilbane Bewildered By Criticism Of Ireland Player After France Defeat
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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A number of Ireland players really stood up to the challenge of France earlier this week.

Facing one of the best sides in world football, you could perhaps understand why some squad members might a bit daunted by the task in front of them. The reality was far different, with the Irish side rising to the challenge posed by the visitors to the Aviva.

They put in an excellent display and could consider themselves very unfortunate not to have come away with a point. Quite a few players were rightly praised in the aftermath of the game, but one Irishman did receive some undue criticism.

Jason Knight was asked to carry out quite a few thankless tasks in the game, pressing the French side and filling gaps in midfield. He worked incredibly hard, and while he did not have the impact in possession that he might have hoped for, his overall showing was a good one.


Despite this, some have criticised the way he played in the game. That included French outlet L'Equipe, who rated him at 3/10 in their notoriously harsh player ratings.

Kevin Kilbane defends Ireland's Jason Knight after France criticism

Kevin Kilbane certainly isn't having any of the criticism that has been directed at Jason Knight in recent days.

Writing for the Irish Times, the 46-year old was steadfast in his defence of the Derby County man and said that he performed brilliantly in the role he was assigned. He compared it to the job he was often handed during his own time with Ireland, one that didn't always necessarily grab the headlines.


Anyone who criticised Knight’s performance should re-evaluate their football knowledge. L’Equipe’s player ratings guy, who gave Knight a 3 out of 10, has no clue.

Knight was a revelation. I know how much sacrifice goes into keeping Ireland’s narrow 5-4-1 shape intact. Chiedozie Ogbene, rightly, received the plaudits down the right but Knight, off the ball, stayed connected to Cullen while keeping tabs on Antoine Griezmann, stymieing numerous France attacks.

Knight plays for Derby County in the third tier of English football. That makes no sense at all. He was exceptional, completely uninhibited by the presence of Bayern Munich’s Benjamin Pavard or France’s other 10 Champions League regulars...

The back five was so narrow that Knight kept tempting France to hit diagonal balls over his head for Pavard to get a one-on-one with Matt Doherty. But they only tried it on a couple of occasions because Knight anticipated the switch, preventing Pavard time or space.

He was also the trigger for the press as France moved the ball across their back line, sprinting at Ibrahima Konaté before Dayot Upamecamo even passed to his fellow centre half.

That was my job for Ireland on numerous occasions. You get next to no recognition externally, but I returned to my club in tatters.

You look like an irritating fly on the hind of a water buffalo but without Knight, France would have found Pavard, Griezmann and Mbappé in the same space that allowed them to beat the Netherlands 4-0.

It is certainly true that much of the work done by Jason Knight against France went unnoticed in some quarters, with the 22-year old covering a remarkable amount of ground. As Kilbane pointed out, he also did this against a team full of Champions League players having spent his season facing League One level opposition.

Regardless of what some outsiders may feel about him, there is no doubt that the Cabinteely native is a big part of Stephen Kenny's Ireland plans.


SEE ALSO: Ferdinand Was Surprised By Liverpool Players' Reaction To Goading From Pep Guardiola

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