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Lessons learned Finland v Ireland: FAI better prepared to deal with Covid scenarios next month

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during a training session at Helsingin Olympiastadion in Helsinki, Finland last night

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during a training session at Helsingin Olympiastadion in Helsinki, Finland last night

PA

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during a training session at Helsingin Olympiastadion in Helsinki, Finland last night

STEPHEN KENNY says that lessons from a challenging week will help the FAI to prepare better for next month with the Ireland boss hopeful that the November games will go ahead.

The status of international football for the remainder of 2020 is under scrutiny after Ireland became one of the countries caught up in Covid-19 related dramas.

Two fringe members of Kenny’s squad contracted the virus and he also lost six players through the HSE definition of close contacts although Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah return for this evening’s game with Finland (5.0) after the staff member seated in front of them on the flight to Bratislava returned a ‘false positive’.

While the FAI appeared to be taking issue with UEFA’s testing process, the confirmation that the second squad player did indeed have Covid – after an Irish test suggested another ‘false positive’ – has placed scrutiny back on how all countries handle their own operations. Ireland did amend their flight and operations plan for Helsinki by travelling later and spreading players out.

“We did change some things. These are things that everyone is learning. There are no experts at the moment in this, it’s a real learning curve for so many people,” said Kenny. “There will be changes, I think, going forward.”

He expressed the wish that the November matches go ahead despite inevitable club concerns, and praised Brighton boss Graham Potter for allowing Connolly to travel.

“Sport is an important part of life, people need something to look forward to,” said Kenny, while acknowledging that any problems experienced by his group should be phrased carefully in the context of the broader global picture.

“Society must exist and you must try and overcome hurdles in your life. It’s great if it (international football) does continue.”

Kenny must plan without James McCarthy for the final game of the triple-header as management feel it would be risky to chance the 29-year-old’s tight hamstring. Jayson Molumby is in line for another start.

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