Stephen Kenny named his first Ireland squad this morning, and it's full of talking points. Kenny picked six defenders, one true left back and Harry Arter. He also selected eight 'forwards' none of whom were named Michael Obafemi. Goalscoring has been Ireland's Achilles heel since the retirement of Robbie Keane, so it was intriguing that Kenny has opted to leave Obafemi - a regular in Southampton's squad during the restarted Premier League - on the South Coast.
Obafemi was clearly expected to be travelling with Ireland next month. He tweeted this afternoon a thinking face emoji and a laughing emoji and the word 'Intresting' [sic].
He also briefly updated his Twitter avatar to a photo of him hugging his mother Bola after winning his first Ireland cap against Denmark in 2018.
The decision will come as no real surprise to anyone reading Stephen Kenny's interviews. Last month, the Ireland manager indicated to Balls.ie that Obafemi doesn't yet have the tactical nous to play as a wing forward in his system.
With Michael we only had him in with me once with the U21s for one camp because he’s been through injuries. He’s done really for one so young and he’s different, he’s quick.
We’ve not had a lot of Irish players traditionally who’ve had real raw pace. That’s very important in international football I feel. But Michael tactically has to adapt because he’s playing in a front two at Southampton.
That really suits him. When he has played wide he is still learning about that role, playing right or left of the centre forward. It doesn’t come naturally to him...
I do think he has got a lot of potential. He’s a bubbly character, he’s a great lad. I hope he gets game time, I know he didn’t play at the weekend, but Southampton is a great club for playing young players.
Obafemi scored 3 goals in 21 appearances for the Saints last season, and would seem like a decent option off the bench to test tiring defences. However, his tweet will have given a Kenny an indicator of his own maturity. Kenny instead opted for Adam Idah and Troy Parrott, two players from his U21 squad full of potential but short on experience at the highest level of football.
Only hours after naming his first squad, Kenny, it seems, has been handed his first true test as Ireland manager.