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kenny picks Brian Kerr questions some of Stephen Kenny's decisions as Ireland are beaten in Serbia


Stephen Kenny is still waiting for his first win as Ireland boss. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Stephen Kenny is still waiting for his first win as Ireland boss. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Stephen Kenny is still waiting for his first win as Ireland boss. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Former Ireland manager Brian Kerr questioned some of the selections made by Stephen Kenny as his side were beaten 3-2 by Serbia in their opening World Cup qualifying match in Belgrade.

After a bright start saw Alan Browne end Ireland’s 11-hour goal drought, substitute Aleksandar Mitrovic served up a timely reminder of his potency with second half goals that swung the game in the favour of the home side.

The defeat leaves Ireland with an uphill battle to qualify for Qatar 2022 and Kerr believes Kenny was a little to ambitious in his team selection, as he selected the relatively untested Josh Cullen alongside Jayson Molumby and Dara O'Shea, in a team that also included rookie keeper Mark Travers.

Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady and Shane Duffy were among those left on the bench and Kerr believes that may have been a mistake.

"I thought the balance of the team, playing the two young boys in the middle of the pitch and O'Shea at the back, was a lot of change to absorb tactically for the players and in the end they were found out," Kerr told Virgin Media Sport.

"Also playing Aaron Connolly on the back of not having played recently with a rub injury, I felt he wasn't running well early in the match.

"Overall, we all all a bit frustrated an annoyed that we lost our first game and the result of the first match is everything. It doesn't mean you can't get out of the group, you have 21 points to play for, but this defeat is massive."

Former Ireland defender Damien Delaney also suggested Kenny had made mistakes, as he wondered whether the switch to a defensive three at the back was too much too soon.

"He got that wrong. I don't think three at the back was the right fit," said Delaney. "Playing three at the back is difficult. Everyone is brought up with four at the back, we understand it.

"To switch to three in a short period of time creates a little bit if hesitancy, a little bit of uncertainty. People are questioning decision as you make it.

"Ciaran Clark was caught our on all three goals and on the positive side, we scored a couple of goals and we were a little bit more positive, but I feel he will regret that (defensive formation)."

Kenny insisted he saw some positives in the defeat, as he admitted the final result was a big blow for his side.

"To get to 3-1 was a kick in the teeth, I was wondering how we were 3-1 down," he said. "We got the goal, rallied, all the subs made an impact and kept going but we just came out the wrong side of a narrow defeat.

"I think the players were terrific. Normally when you conceded three goals it’s the result of giving up six or seven chances but they scored with their first chance. And I’m really disappointed to lose that game.

“I’m disappointed with the second goal we conceded. Overall I can’t believe we conceded three goals because it didn’t look like that type of match."

Captain Seamus Coleman also spoke after his disappointment, as he insisted the new defensive system was a success.

"You're always disappointed to lose a game, especially when you've gone 1-0 up," he added. "We had a new system tonight and I thought we did it quite well.

"Obviously if you concede three goals at this level, chances are you'll lose the game. That's massively disappointing but there are a lot of positives.

"We tried to play out from the back and did it well at times, we probably could have been a bit braver as the game went on but we'll learn from that I'm sure."

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