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Stephen Kenny Has Been Impressed With Ebosele & Obafemi Amid Ireland Speculation

Stephen Kenny Has Been Impressed With Ebosele & Obafemi Amid Ireland Speculation
By Gary Connaughton
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If there is one thing we know about Stephen Kenny, it's that he is not afraid to throw young players into the mix at senior international level.

He has handed out a huge number of debuts during his time in charge of the Republic of Ireland, a number of whom have gone on to establish themselves as key members of the squad.

That is unlikely to change in the future, even if the Ireland boss did admit that there will be a bit less experimentation with his line-ups now that he will try and take the team to the next level after peening his new contract.

In saying that, there will always be room for more talented youngsters to emerge. Festy Ebosele and Michael Obafemi are two obvious candidates. Both players have excelled in the Championship this season for Derby County and Swansea City respectively.

Stephen Kenny on the progress of Festy Ebosele & Michael Obafemi

At 19-years old, Ebosele was not really someone that was on the senior international radar prior to the last few months. He only made his Ireland U21 debut last year and looked very raw as a player.


However, he has really taken his game to the next level in recent times. While Kenny said he will probably fall just short of his squad for the friendlies against Belgium and Lithuania later this month, he is a perfect example of how a player can put themselves into the international reckoning.

There is still room for people to find form and get into the team. That is the nature of it, especially when you go from the November to March windows which is vast. Players can emerge.

Take for example Festy Ebosele. I couldn't envisage that we would be thinking of him as a senior international player in November. I followed him from the U17s, U19s, U21s. He probably won't be in the squad next week to be honest, he will probably be with the U21s barring injury.

But how good he has been for Derby, he is absolutely lightning. He is quicker that Chiedozie [Ogbene], he is rapid and frightens defenders.

I couldn't have thought in November that he would be in contention in March, it can change dramatically like that. Other more experienced players have gotten more playing time and they have excelled.


Michael Obafemi is someone who has been capped by Ireland before, although he has yet to add to his one appearance under Martin O'Neill back in 2018.

Having initially burst onto the scene at Southampton, a combination of injuries and lack of playing time mean has yet to be included in an Ireland squad since.

He is someone Stephen Kenny has spoken about in the past, although it was said that the striker needed to put a run of form together. The 21-year old has since done so, scoring four goals since the start of February including a brace last weekend.



The Ireland manager was impressed with his performance in that game and is hopeful that his rich vein of form continues.

Michael is interesting. I love the two goals he got against Coventry, running beyond defenders, taking a good first touch, getting one-on-one and finishing calmly like that. They were great goals.

Michael has not played consecutive football ever in his career, he has never had a consecutive run of matches with Southampton. That was because he had a persistent run of hamstring injuries that caused him no end of difficulty and the competition at Southampton as well.

He has a good manager there in Russel Martin who has done well with him and he got the goals next week. He just needs to continue in that run of form.

While we may not see these two players in Kenny's squad later this month, they will become difficult to ignore if they maintain their current standards over the remainder of the season.

SEE ALSO: Stephen Kenny Brilliantly Explains How Each Of Ireland's Goalkeepers Offer Something Different

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