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ireland's no.1 Stephen Kenny stands firm in battle between Gavin Bazunu and Caoimhín Kelleher

Boys in Green boss welcomes goalkeeper rivalry as a ‘good problem’

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Left to right, Gavin Bazunu and Caoimhín Kelleher are battling it out for the Ireland number one spot

Left to right, Gavin Bazunu and Caoimhín Kelleher are battling it out for the Ireland number one spot

Left to right, Gavin Bazunu and Caoimhín Kelleher are battling it out for the Ireland number one spot

Stephen Kenny has confirmed that Gavin Bazunu is still first-choice goalkeeper with the Republic of Ireland, ahead of Caoimhín Kelleher despite the Liverpool man's League Cup final heroics.

But the Ireland boss says he can't consider being spoiled for choice in the goalkeeping department to be a "problem" as he plans to rotate and give game time to Bazunu, Kelleher and Mark Travers in the friendly games against Belgium and Lithuania later this month, as Kenny argues that with his displays at Bournemouth, Travers is the one member of that trio who is having the best season.

"When you meet Gavin for the first time in a group, he is a leader and has leadership qualities. He is just someone who carries himself with this sort of aura. He would have done well in life whatever he had done," Kenny said when asked if Kelleher was now challenging Bazunu.

"He has a presence, has a sort of unflappable nature that is incredible for one so young. He has obvious inbuilt character traits that give you the capacity to give away a penalty but then save it in the same vein.

"You never underestimate Caoimhín. He played for me in the U-21 team, he played ten of the 12 internationals. He was the one who played most for me. He’s laconic, makes goalkeeping nearly an art form. It’s beautiful to watch him, aesthetically amazing to watch.

"I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a goalkeeper, brilliant to watch, such style and composure under pressure. It’s just a great position to be in. I don’t consider those problems. They are good problems.

"We have three keepers. Mark Travers, he has had the best season. Probably because Gavin is playing in League One, you wouldn't consider that he's had the best season. Mark arguably has had in terms of whether you measure Caoimhín winning the trophy."

Kenny also confirmed that Swansea striker Michael Obafemi is in line for a recall while the Ireland boss has also name-checked Derby County man Festy Ebosele, though the Rams player will not get a senior call-up this month and will instead be with the U-21s.

"Festy probably won't be in the squad next week, to be honest, he'll probably be with the U21s, barring injuries, but how good he has been for Derby, he has been absolutely lightning, he's quicker than Chiedozie (Ogbene). He's rapid, he frightens defenders and I couldn't have thought in November that he could be in contention in March," he said.

"Michael has not played consecutive football ever in his career, because he had persistent hamstring injuries which caused him no end of difficulty, and the competition at Southampton.

"He has a good manager there Russell Martin who has done well with him and he’s got two good goals last week and he needs to just continue in that vein of form."

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