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keep the faith WATCH: Ireland assistant manager Keith Andrews serves up passionate defence of Stephen Kenny

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Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, left, and coach Keith Andrews prior to the UEFA Nations League B match between against Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, left, and coach Keith Andrews prior to the UEFA Nations League B match between against Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny, left, and coach Keith Andrews prior to the UEFA Nations League B match between against Bulgaria at the Aviva Stadium. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland assistant manager Keith Andrews has launched a passionate defence of Stephen Kenny's reign as national team boss, as he admitted some senior players have been unhappy by the shift to a more youthful line-up.

Kenny has failed to win any of his first eleven matches as Ireland manager and a succession of former internationals have lined up to question why he has sidelined senior performers in favour of young players who have yet to prove their worth at the highest level of the game.

Yet Andrews told Virgin Media Sport that Kenny was committed to his approach, despite a disastrous run of results that included a 1-0 home defeat against Luxembourg that all-but ended Ireland's hopes of qualifying for next year's World Cup finals.

"I can't be a hypocrite and when you don't win in 11 games, you have to take criticism. That's part and parcel of the gig," he stated.

"The tough one to take is Luxembourg. They were not under-rated by anyone, but we just didn't perform on the night and it is one that will live long in the memory.

"I don't like losing to Serbia (3-2), we shouldn't have conceded the goals that we did, but in terms of the performance I can sit with it. We played right into Luxembourg's hands, didn't exploit their vulnerabilities, and that's where the whole debate around selection comes."

Andrews went on to suggest chaos at the FAI has played a part in the team's results and even suggested the absence of retired striker David McGoldrick was a factor in Kenny's failings, as he insisted the style of play being implemented was the right way to go.

"In terms of what we're trying to do and trying to achieve, it absolutely suits the players," he continued.

"Playing an old fashioned, direct, 4-4-2? We haven't got the personnel to play like that. There's no doubt in the belief we have in the players, the plans, the processes, but the results haven't been there.

"In terms of the style we are trying to employ... I've worked with some of these players since they were 15 and they are capable of playing. There has to be a belief in their own abilities at times and how we bring that forward."

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"Let's be accurate with this. The timing of when we took over, what's gone on previously in terms of the FAI hasn't been good.

"During a pandemic, the players that we've missed compared to say this trip going back to the very first game in Bulgaria - the amount of players that were missing from then even.

"The likes of (David) McGoldrick, Darren Randolph, Conor Hourihane, James McCarthy, you have to be adaptable.

"Short term pain and hopefully it's long-term gain. It was never going to be easy, but there is a lot to take from certain things, particularly the connection with the players."

Andrews also admitted some senior players have been frustrated to be sidelined by Kenny's eagerness to promote youthful talent.

"If you've got 50, 60 or 80 caps and you see a player fresh from the U21s, or just making their way in their career, your nose is going to be out of joint," added Andrews.

"Has there been a couple of frowns and people getting down? Yeah, that's natural and unfortunately that comes with the territory.

"There's no divine right to get caps. The buy-in and attitude of the players from day dot against Bulgaria last September has been absolutely impeccable."

Andrews was given an alternative view by his fellow Virgin Media Sport analyst Niall Quinn, who again reiterated his stance that senior players will be needed to guide the younger players on the biggest stages.

"I would say the vast, vast, vast majority of people want to see Stephen Kenny and the Ireland team do well," stated former Ireland striker Quinn.

"They are not pushing for him to be sacked at this point, but I felt the experienced players being on the field against Qatar felt better as an Ireland fan.

"They have never let anybody down and they have bought into a belief of what it means to play for this country.

"Stephen has gone a slightly different way and it is catching us out. Getting the senior players back in felt better. You can't do this without senior players."

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