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ALDO'S VIEW John Aldridge - We are reaching a tipping point for international football

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11 October 2020; Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during the UEFA Nations League B match between Republic of Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

11 October 2020; Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during the UEFA Nations League B match between Republic of Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

11 October 2020; Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny during the UEFA Nations League B match between Republic of Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

IRELAND play another UEFA Nations League match in Finland tonight and it feels like we are edging towards a tipping point for international football.

In this troubled international window, we have seen two Ireland players test positive for Covid-19, false positive test incidents, players isolating and chaos that has made manager Stephen Kenny's job virtually impossible.

Kenny lost Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah from the big Euro 2020 play-off game in Slovakia last week after they got too close to an FAI staff member who ended up with a false positive Covid-19 test, then had more players pulled out of the Wales game and ongoing confusion over coronavirus tests ahead of this evening's game.

We have seen similar incidents in international squads all over the world and while those in charge of international football will argue we have to try and get these games played, I'm not sure it is feasible to have international football at a time when travelling between countries seems to be so challenging.

I saw my old Ireland team-mate Niall Quinn talking on Virgin Media Sport questioning whether these games should be played in these challenging times.

And I'm certain that debate will gather pace because Ireland's problems have been replicated in a lot of squads all around the world in recent days.

International travel, switching between hotels, moving players from club bubbles to national team bubbles and everything that goes with playing for your country is a mammoth challenge and all this upheaval to play matches in empty stadiums?

I also wonder whether the players are enjoying the experience because some of the football I have seen on my TV across Europe in recent days left the impression that some don't really want to be playing in these matches.

Now I loved every second of my time playing for Ireland and one of the big parts of the joy we all felt as players came from playing in front of our wonderful fans and then having a few pints with them after the game.

They were fantastic times when the world seemed a little less complicated, yet the events of the last week have left plenty of people wondering whether we should be playing internationals at a time when the virus is spreading rapidly again.

Players have been flying to all corners of the world and when they get back to their clubs in the next 24 hours, no-one would be surprised if we get a fresh batch of positive Covid-19 tests. From the outside looking in, it feels like it would easier to control the movement of players and all around them when they are within their club bubbles and being tested as regularly as they are at top Premier League clubs.

We have had a few high-profile examples of players getting Covid-19 and Liverpool have been badly hit with Thiago Alcantara and Sadio Mane among those getting the virus in recent weeks.

Now we hear that Naby Keita has tested positive while away on international duty and so many clubs will be left to pick up the pieces when club matches resume this weekend.

The mess has not just reserved to the confusion off the field as on it, the 'action' in the games has been pretty dreadful.

The new Ireland management team are trying to change the way we have played since my time in the team and even though it is still early days for them, it hasn't really worked.

We played some decent football at times against Slovakia in the play-off game last week, but the same problem will continue to haunt Ireland until they find a goal scorer.

It's all well and good encouraging the players to play nice football and creating chances, but the reality is we are not scoring goals and probably won't score goals unless we mix it up a bit.

I'm not saying we need to launch long balls into the box against Finland tonight because the players we have in the team are not suited to that kind of football, but I question whether we can succeed playing a passing game with the players we have got right now.

A mix of passing football and getting good quality balls into danger areas is the way Ireland can succeed and we also need to make better use of set-pieces than we have in the last few games.

Shane Duffy's last-minute effort in Bulgaria last month (from a set-piece) is the only goal Ireland have scored in Kenny's four games in charge and while decent chances have been created, we don't have the players to finish them off.

The hunt for Robbie Keane's replacement has been ongoing for a decade now and we have not come up with an answer yet.

We have some promising young players coming through the Irish ranks like Aaron Connolly, Adam Idah and Troy Parrott, but they are young kids and cannot be expected to solve all out problems at international level.

The biggest issue Kenny has is getting a team on to the pitch with Covid-19 appearing around every corner and at some point soon, the powers that be will have to make a call on whether international football should be on the agenda at all right now.

Online Editors