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Kenny: It's Not A Case Of 'What Might Have Been' With Rice Or Grealish

Kenny: It's Not A Case Of 'What Might Have Been' With Rice Or Grealish
By Gary Connaughton
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While Ireland's game against England next week is only a friendly, any meeting between the two nations is always seen as a big occasion in this part of the world.

Ireland have only beaten the English twice in their history, with the last win coming at the Euros in 1988. However, they are unbeaten against the same opposition since 1985.

The game at Wembley Stadium on Thursday night will be an interesting one, and it's a fixture Stephen Kenny is very much looking forward to. Speaking at a press conference this afternoon, he said the only thing lacking will be supporters in the ground.

We would have loved to see a packed Wembley, a massive Irish contingent that would travel well. That would be really special.

That's what we really wanted. Ideally, as a manager you dream of having your own family there, the players all dream about their family going to those games.

It's an empty stadium but it's still a historical stadium. We have to be cognisant of that and it's a great game. They're all good games.

Of course, there are a few players in the England squad that are probably glad that there will be no Irish fans in the stadium.


Declan Rice, Jack Grealish, and Michael Keane have all been part of the Irish setup in the past before declaring for England, meaning they were unlikely to receive a warm reception from some supporters.

Gareth Southgate has already had his say on the subject, but when asked if he had thought what might have been had Rice and Grealish stuck with Ireland, he said he can't really think in such terms.

Not really. Obviously they're both very good players. I'm very happy with the players we have, we have a lot of talent coming through.

Nearly eight players coming into the squad, young players to supplement all the good players that are there. I think we've got a lot of good players and a lot of talent, and we're not far away from being a very good side.

I can't worry about other players that could have been part of the occasion. They're obviously good players, we can't really dwell on that from our point of view.

We've got to look forward and see what players are coming through, what players emerge.

Some of the players, Enda Stevens, John Egan, Matt Doherty, who are now mainstays of the team only became regulars in the last campaign. They're in their late 20s, so other players can emerge later as well.

Some sections of Irish support are wary of dual nationality players becoming involved with the country at underage level, still carrying the wounds of past disappointments.

While this ultimately comes down to the personal preference of the players involved, Stephen Kenny admitted there are some things that can be done to make our youth setup as attractive as possible.


What we can do is try to make the environment at all ages as professional as possible. Make sure that there is a clear pathway between the U15s and the senior international team, make sure that if players are exceptional they move up the ages quicker to accelerate their development.

that's very important. If players can play at U21 level at 17 and they excel, they can become first team players soon enough if that's the case.

That's how I see it, create an environment that players can identify with, an identity for the Irish team.

To be fair, all the players love playing for Ireland at all the age groups. There can be some misinformation nowadays that players are not that committed, but that wasn't my experience when I came in and managed the players.

When they were left out of squads, they were genuinely devastated, they were desperate to play.

SEE ALSO: Southgate Addresses The Elephant In The Room Ahead Of Ireland Game

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