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stephen kenny: McGoldrick's retirement has opened up the chance for Aaron Connolly to make the central striking position his own

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McGoldrick's departure could open doors for Aaron Connolly

McGoldrick's departure could open doors for Aaron Connolly

McGoldrick's departure could open doors for Aaron Connolly

Stephen Kenny admits that David McGoldrick will be missed by the Republic of Ireland after the veteran's decision to retire from international football.

But the Ireland boss insists that McGoldrick's retirement has opened up the chance for Aaron Connolly to make the central striking position his own and emerge from the fringes.

McGoldrick made the shock announcement on Wednesday that, at the age of 33, he was retiring from the Ireland scene for family reasons and to focus on his club career, though Kenny said he was not surprised.

"It wasn't really a shock, I knew it was always his intention to retire at the end of the campaign," Kenny said at a press conference today where he named a 26-man squad for the international triple header against England, Wales and Finland, with James Collins (Luton Town) recalled but Shane Long and Seani Maguire were, surprisingly, omitted.

"He's a great guy, a very popular member of the squad and I would have liked him to stay on as he has a positive impact on the young attacking players we have. But he has his reasons and I respect his reasons. That is the way life is. He was excellent in our game against Slovakia and I certainly wish him well.

"It was always his intention to retire and he can speak for himself. The abductor injury in Slovakia had an effect on his training and he lost his place at Sheffield United, and he hasn't started the last few games. He is a private man and he has his own reasons and you have to respect that," Kenny added.

"He's at the stage in his life, at nearly 33, that he felt at the World Cup, he would be 35 and he was looking at that. Fair enough, you have to respect it.

"He played very well and he could have added to the squad over three games like that but it opens up opportunities for other players.

"While I wanted David to stay on and get our best players in, I would have linked him up with Aaron Connolly as they never had a chance to play together, Aaron's best position is centre forward and it opens it up for him to play in central areas," added Kenny.

He admits that a return of one goal in five games is a concern but he maintains he has faith in his squad being, in time, able to convert chances into goals, the Ireland boss adding that he opted to take on a testing game in a friendly next week, England away, instead of a winnable game against lower-ranked opposition.

"You have to accept criticism if you're not scoring goals, for sure. But with my analysis, we have only conceded four chances over the three games - two against Slovakia when Darren [Randoplh] made a save from a counter-attack from our own corner and Shane Duffy cleared one off the line, we had none against Wales and Finland hardly anything. We created chances, we are playing well and haven't taken them but we have to live with that," Kenny says.

"I have great faith in the young players coming through. It's not something I would be negative about, I'm quite optimistic," Kenny added, confirming that Troy Parrott will tomorrow be named in the Irish U-21 squad.

"Bulgaria play Gibraltar in a friendly, on Thursday, I could have looked to get a really low ranked team at home to try to get some goals and a victory and park that, park the question, but we have taken on England.

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"Does it make sense to do that? People will go on about winning games and ratios but I am looking for the team to develop, we don't fear anyone, how can we improve, we are thinking that these are good games, England in Wembley and getting ready for Wales in Cardiff, it gives up an opportunity to improve for the World Cup qualifiers in March."

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