| 9.6°C Dublin

Andorra test Stephen Kenny handed another big chance to end his winless run as Stoke complain about James McClean


Ireland manager Stephen Kenny

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny

Ireland manager Stephen Kenny

Republic of Ireland will play friendlies against Andorra and Hungary this summer ahead of attempting to resurrect their floundering qualifying campaign for the 2022 World Cup.

Stephen Kenny’s men will travel to the Estadi Nacional in Andorra La Vella on June 3 before playing Hungary at unconfirmed venue five days later.

The fixtures, announced by the Football Association of Ireland, will form part of a summer training camp in preparation for a trio of World Cup qualifiers in early September against Portugal, Azerbaijan and Serbia.

Manager Kenny is yet to taste victory since replacing Mick McCarthy last April, losing six of his 11 games and drawing the other five.

His struggling side were humiliated at home by minnows Luxembourg on Saturday after beginning World Cup qualifying with defeat to Serbia in Belgrade three days earlier.

They are already seven points adrift of both Portugal and Serbia in Group A, albeit having played a game less.

Kenny also failed to guide Ireland to this summer’s rearranged European Championships after losing on penalties to Slovakia in the play-offs in October.

Meanwhile, Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill has registered his annoyance after Kenny opted to use winger James McClean in last month's international break despite his injury concerns.

McClean was a goal scorer in Ireland's 1-1 draw with Qatar on Tuesday, but Stoke were not happy with his participation as they do not believe he was ready to play.

"I didn’t expect him to play as much when he was away," confirmed O'Neill. "Our understanding of James meeting up with Ireland was that he was being brought in as a security blanket.

"I had a conversation with Stephen Kenny on two occasions about James’s involvement. We didn’t think he was fit. I was a little bit disappointed to see him take part in three games and obviously he played 84 minutes on Tuesday.

"I think I was pretty clear in what I said. I didn’t think James was fit enough to go away on international duty. He has a degenerative complaint in his foot that needed rest. It was too painful for him to play and he missed seven games with us. He subsequently received an injection for that and – I’m repeating myself – he would be out for four to six weeks.

"He joined up with Ireland after three weeks. We got assurances for Ireland that he would only be used as a security blanket. That was in two conversations I had with Stephen Kenny.

"Obviously we had a lot of dialogue between the two medical teams. We notified them very early that we felt James wasn’t fit enough to join up with the Republic of Ireland.

"I don’t question the player’s desire to play for his country - and very commendable that is - but I was surprised and disappointed to see him take part in all three games, particularly the final game where it is a friendly game and I think they had other options.

"I did see other players return to their clubs. We are disappointed with how the player has been handled during the international break."

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors

Top Videos