Football

In Picking Will Keane Over Anthony Scully, Has Kenny Gone Against His Own Philosophy?

In Picking Will Keane Over Anthony Scully, Has Kenny Gone Against His Own Philosophy?

Stephen Kenny named his Ireland squad for the upcoming games against Azerbaijan and Qatar yesterday, with the 26-man panel looking largely as you would have expected. The likes of Enda Stevens, Jason Knight, and Chiedozie Ogbene have all come back into the fold after their recent injury issues.

However, there was one surprise inclusion.

Wigan Athletic striker Will Keane was handed a first call-up, something that came as a shock to many supporters.

A product of the Manchester United academy and brother of Everton defender Michael Keane, the 28-year old first declared for Ireland in 2019. Despite this, he has been largely off most people's radars since then.

That was largely down to his form.

Having previously been a highly touted prospect in front of goal, Keane went on a dreadful scoring run for Hull City and Ipswich Town. The striker scored a total of seven league goals across four seasons from 2016-2020 (admittedly with some injuries mixed in).

To his credit, he has stepped things up in recent months. Keane went on a good scoring run for Wigan towards the end of last season and has four goals to his name in the current campaign.

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Speaking at yesterday's squad announcement, Stephen Kenny described what the player can bring to the international fold:

Will has had a consistent run of games this year - he's probably having one of his best seasons. We managed to see quite a bit of him.

He links the play well, he's playing as a second striker at Wigan. They were top of the league up to... they got beaten by Sheffield Wednesday, obviously, on Tuesday night - I was at the game.

He leads the line quite well, and he has an appreciation of players around him, good weight of pass and good vision. He can score headed goals, and different types of goals so he's having a good season so far.

Despite this, the fact that Keane was selected ahead of another League One player does boggle the mind.

Anthony Scully has been in scintillating form for Lincoln City this season, with his personal tally already standing at ten goals and three assists in all competitions. There are few Irish players in better form at the moment.

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What's more, Scully only turned 22-years old earlier this year. He is a forward with a huge amount of potential.

Considering Stephen Kenny's emphasis on youth, this selection seems like a strange one.

It is true that Keane and Scully do not play in identical positions, with the Lincoln City man largely operating off the left. However, he has often played through the middle in the past. With the squad already containing central strikers like Adam Idah, James Collins, Troy Parrott, and Aaron Connolly, this should not have been much of an issue.

There are certainly some inconsistencies from Stephen Kenny. Last month, he said that he was building for Euro 2024 with this squad. If that's the case, then surely Scully should have been the selection here?

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Handing a first call-up to a 28-year old striker, one who has shown very little form in his career up until the last six months, does not really fit with everything else the Ireland manager is trying to do.

Of course, we would love nothing more than to see Will Keane become the answer to Ireland's issues in front of goal. There just doesn't seem to be much evidence that this will be the case.

In saying that, there is nothing wrong with giving him an opportunity. Anthony Scully just seemed like the more logical choice considering what Stephen Kenny is trying to achieve.

Here's hoping he will be given an opportunity in the months ahead.

SEE ALSO: Anselmo Garcia MacNulty Has Not 'Shut Door' On Switching Allegiance

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Gary Connaughton

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