Stephen Kenny was appointed Ireland manager almost two years ago. This Thursday its Ireland v Bulgaria, we have a preview and starting teams.
Ireland will play in the competition’s second tier in a group comprising of Wales, Finland, and Bulgaria. Thursday is the competition’s opening round. Three days later Ireland host Finland in Dublin. The Nations League offers the former Dundalk a coach a chance to make his mark.
After a long break, Ireland have a busy autumn schedule. Nations League games appear in September, October and November. As well as this the Euro 2021 qualifier play-off against Slovakia is on the 8th of October.
Kenny will know the rewards that come from a good campaign here. Uefa Nations ranking currently have Ireland 20th. This puts them in pot 2 for next year’s world cup qualifiers. Staying there will yield a favorable draw ahead of next March’s fixtures.
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New Blood for Ireland
There will be chances for Kenny to experiment with his squad here. The quick turnaround between games will mean plenty of minutes for players. Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Kenny admitted that “Places are up for grabs”. Younger players such as Jayson Molumby and Aaron Connolly will take that as a challenge to be accepted. The likes of Adam Idah and Michael Obafemi could also get minutes.
Kenny has given call-ups to West Brom’s Dara O’Shea and Preston’s Sean Maguire. Defender O’Shea captained the Irish u-21s under Kenny. “His ability to play the four positions is an asset” said the manager. Maguire meanwhile comes in after Troy Parrott picked up an injury while on club duty with Milwall.
Kenny’s familiarity with younger players is reason for excitement. In the next few months we can expect to see new faces in the international set up. This competition for places will be healthy for the Irish team.
Ireland hope to replicate their 3-1 win over Bulgaria last September. This time you may see new names to get on the scoresheet.
Ireland v Bulgaria Teams – Predicted XI
Ireland: Randolph, Doherty, Duffy, Egan, Stephens, McCarthy, Hourihane, Robinson, Hendrick, Brady, Long (4-2-3-1)
Stephen Kenny’s men are 11/8 with BETPAT football betting to secure a first win for the former Dundalk manager. Bulgaria is 5/2 to pull off the shock.