The appearance of Keith Andrews on OTB to negate comments from former international players this week were the prelude to this squad announcement.
A squad announcement where Ronan and Scully were mentioned as potential inclusions but it was Will Keane who got the nod. Hawkeye Sidekick reflects on the latest squad reveal.
Genuinely no surprise on the three selections. Randolph is struggling for first team football and until that changes, the trio of Bazunu, Kelleher and Travers will be the norm. Bazunu should get the nod for Azerbaijan but will Stephen Kenny look to Caoimhin Kelleher for the Qatar game?
No Seamus Coleman due to injury. Dara O’Shea starts the long road back to full fitness after his injury against Portugal in September. The good news is that Enda Stevens returns to the senior squad fold so wing back squad depth is improved. Ryan Manning included but I don’t see where he gets game time unless Kenny decides that Qatar is the fixture to blood the likes of Manning and Collins to international football.
Jason Knight is back in the senior squad which is a big boost. Jayson Molumby is suspended but first team minutes have been an issue for the player even with his loan club West Bromwich Albion. Harry Arter continues to be named in the squad, not sure why and the benefits of this inclusion, only Kenny and Andrews know the rationale of this selection.
Will Keane is the marquee headline. The former England U21 has had discussions with Mick McCarthy on his international allegiances back in 2019. The form of the player with Wigan Athletic is good this term, four goals scored and one assist in the league.
Perhaps James McClean has provided a glowing reference to management on the player? Twenty-eight years of age so the age profile when compared with what Kenny has done previously of blooding underage talent is smashed with this selection.
Anthony Scully (Lincoln City) has had a superb start to the season. Six goals scored in the EFL League One campaign from ten league fixtures, six assists but management are not interested. Georgie Kelly has had excellent cameos for Bohemians. Sixteen goals to his name but again overlooked.
There is a distinct lack of players from either the domestic league or players plying their trade outside of UK. Ryan Johansson, Zak Elbouzedi come to mind as players who would not look out of place in this senior squad. Elbouzedi has started life with AIK in fine form.
The management team need to cast the net far and wide here. The squad is struggling for creativity and cohesion in the final third but the UK player based solution approach is not going to cut it. Scouting is in short supply based on this squad selection!
Stephen Kenny realistically needs two wins here in Baku and Aviva Stadium. Failure to do so and the football revolution will grind to a halt. The squad selection here is steady but the Will Keane selection (unless he comes out with an incredible debut) will raise questions on Kenny and his previous policy of giving younger age profile players an opportunity. Time will tell next week!