Too Risky | 

Richard Dunne warns about Evan Ferguson starting against France in Euros qualifier

But Dunne feels that the addition to the squad of in-form players like Ferguson has made Kenny’s outfit stronger.

Former Republic of Ireland international Richard Dunne with Jessie Stapleton of Shelbourne and Sam Curtis of St Patrick's Athletic at the launch of the EA SPORTS LOI Academy development programme. Photo by: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile© SPORTSFILE


Former Ireland star Richard Dunne admits it may be a risk for Stephen Kenny to hand teenage star Evan Ferguson a starting role in next month’s Euro qualifier at home to France.

Kenny’s side begin their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign at home to the World Cup runners-up, four days after France host Holland, and while Dunne is a huge admirer of the Brighton forward, he’s concerned about putting too much pressure on a player so young.

“It’s a very big game, a tough one for him to start straight away, I’d have thought. The games he started, he’s not looked out of place in the Premier League. I’m sure it’s a tough decision for the manager,” Dunne said in Dublin yesterday.

“It’s a big call, because you don’t want to pin all your hopes on him. You’re playing against one of the best teams in the world. If it doesn’t work out, you don’t want to lose too much confidence too soon. I think he’ll play a big part, whether he’ll start or on the bench, I don’t know.”

But Dunne feels that the addition to the squad of in-form players like Ferguson has made Kenny’s outfit stronger. “I think if you look back, there’s not many Irish sides who’d have fancied that group. It’s difficult. The goal is to qualify, that’s the be-all and end-all of it, but there has to be a bit of realism about who we’re playing,” he said.

“It’s a tough group to get out of. If we do, brilliant. If not, it’ll come down to performances. Ireland have improved over the last while - the last couple of games no – but before that we improved, started to score goals, started to pick up better results.

“It’s a huge shift, from where we were two or three years ago to what we are now. We’re going in the right direction. Having players like Evan being able to get into the squad will hopefully be the finishing touches to what’s been built.”

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