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brennan's brief No rub of the green for luckless Stephen Kenny after Ireland handed nightmare Serbia opener

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has been handed a nightmare opener

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has been handed a nightmare opener

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has been handed a nightmare opener

Stephen Kenny wouldn’t have been given as much as a Corporal’s job in Napoleon’s army.

The famous French leader wanted only one thing of his Generals, that they be lucky.

Kenny hasn’t had a smidgen of the stuff since he took over as the commander of Ireland’s football fortunes.

After injuries, Covid, and players missing the Euro play-off because they did not sit in their anointed seat on the plane out to Slovakia, Kenny’s latest kick in the teeth came last night out in Zurich.

The Irish manager was told that his team must begin their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign with the one match they would not have wanted – Serbia away.

Even playing Portugal in Lisbon first would have been preferable. Why?

Because any sane football fan has to assume that the current European Champions, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Diogo Jota and Bruno Fernandes aboard, are going to win the group.

And one has to assume that Azerbaijan and Luxembourg, though they might cause an upset en route, will be the group’s also-ranks.

So, that leaves the group play-off place between Serbia and Ireland, and playing your very first qualifier in Belgrade, with that much at stake, is not a good idea.

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Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher

It may also compromise Kenny’s selection thoughts for the match.

Take these scenarios, neither of which are impossible – that Darren Randolph doesn’t get a game at West Ham between now and late March and that, given Alisson Becker‘s recent injury record, Caomihin Kelleher plays another half a dozen matches for Liverpool in the Premier League and Champions League.

Does Kenny dare, in the circumstances, give Kelleher a senior debut away to Serbia, even though Randolph will not have played a game since Ireland’s match against Bulgaria three weeks ago?

Otherwise, despite that one bummer, the fixture list has not been too unkind to Kenny.

They only have to make one long trip, next October, to play both Azerbaijan and Qatar away, though there is a suggestion that the Qatar match will be played somewhere in Europe on the route home from Baku.

Before all that, Kenny has other things to worry about. There wasn’t much Irish interest, other than Aaron Connolly, in the Brighton-Southampton Premier League match last Monday night.

That was because Jayson Molumby (Brighton) and Michael Obafemi (Southampton) weren't even on their team’s benches for the match, and Shane Long remained rooted to his seat in the stand . How are Kenny’s players going to improve as internationals, if they can’t even be club players?

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