Stephen Kenny calls for his Irish players to be more ruthless as he seeks elusive first victory

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny

Daniel McDonnell

Stephen Kenny feels that adaptability and ruthlessness are two qualities that his Irish team need to develop as they convene in Spain for a summer training camp ahead of friendlies with Andorra and Hungary.

The Dubliner is still looking for a first win as Irish boss and will be expected to deliver it against the Andorrans on Thursday before a more difficult game against Euros bound Hungary five days later.

He is without a double figure number of squad regulars for this gathering but it has opened the door for five new caps with Peterborough's Sammie Szmodics a surprise late addition.

This is the longest period of time that Kenny has got to spend with the group since taking over, and he is hoping to right some wrongs.

"I've learned a lot and I am all the time continually learning," said Kenny today.

"We want to learn and win, of course. We want to win games. That is what we will be looking to do.

“I've gone through some of the clips of some absolutely outstanding plays in the last run of games but we have to turn that [into wins]. It has not been maybe consistent in all the games. Parts of games there have been some exceptional moves, but we need consistency over 90 minutes, and we need to take our chances. That is critical for us, we must be more prolific, more ruthless in front of goal, that's for sure.

"I think one of the things is we have to be adaptable and we have to be fluid. For example, we played 4-3-3 early on and 4-2-3-1 against Slovakia and all of a sudden you get to the last window and all of our wingers are injured, and we've got the capacity to play 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-3, and we just have to have the flexibility and adaptability to do that. I think that's very important for us.

"So to be able to practice the different systems and get the players to understand exactly what we expect. And understand that in some games, the concept of control, we have established that at times but we need more penetration in our play at times, and our midfield players constantly monitoring their ability to pass forward.

"We're highlighting that a lot generally, incisive passes. It's an area that we need to improve.

"Some of the passages of play against Serbia were simply outstanding, and we've looked back on them and shown them to the players today, and we were unfortunate not to win that.

"And then we've seen a lot of our play against Luxembourg break down and not be as fluid at all. So there is room for improvement there."

Kenny explained that English born Szmodics (25) had previously let the FAI know of his availability but he was overlooked at U21 level (Noel King was Kenny's predecessor).

He started off with his hometown club Colchester and had a brief spell at Bristol City before joining Peterborough where he was a central part of their promotion from League One this term.

Szmodics - who has an Irish grandmother from Longford and a Hungarian grandfather hence his surname - impressed Kenny this term.

"I went to watch Ipswich and Peterborough only 18 months ago to watch Alan Judge for Ipswich and Jack Taylor playing for Peterborough and in that game Sam was playing as a number ten and he scored twice in Portman Road that day. He did very well," said Kenny.

"We monitored his progress in that period. Obviously it is a big jump from League One to international football. I've been at some recent games in Peterborough to see him and he is adaptable. He is a very hard working player. He's quick and has managed to be a selfless player for Peterborough, playing in a 4-2-3-1 as the number 10 but because of the way they play – they are very attacking, it is nearly like 4-2-4 – and he is like a second striker with them, scoring and creating a few goals.

"He moves into the Championship this year so he will be keen to have a good camp."

Swansea's Conor Hourihane and Ryan Manning will fly to Spain on Monday morning with Kenny praising Hourihane's determination to be present.

Coach Anthony Barry will also fly in on Monday after finishing his season's work at Chelsea with this evening's Champions League final.


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