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Connolly backs boss to prove his critics wrong

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Aaron Connolly

Aaron Connolly

SPORTSFILE

Aaron Connolly

Aaron Connolly believes critics of Stephen Kenny will be forced to eat their words as he offered up a glowing endorsement of the Ireland manager's credentials ahead of the crunch European Championship play-off game in Slovakia tomorrow.

Speaking at an EA Sports event to launch the new FIFA 2021 game, Brighton striker Connolly suggested snipes from former Ireland players such as Jason McAteer questioning Kenny's credentials to be Ireland boss are misplaced.

Having worked with the former Dundalk boss in the Ireland Under-21 set-up over the last couple of years, Connolly is perfectly placed to offer up a first-hand judgement on Kenny and he suggests the doubters needs to give the new Ireland boss a chance to prove his worth.

"I wouldn't listen too much to someone like Jason McAteer when he questions Stephen Kenny," stated the 20-year-old striker, who started in Kenny's first two games as Ireland senior boss last month.

"As an ex-Ireland player, you would think he would know who Stephen is and what he has achieved, but it doesn't really bother any of us what people say about the gaffer.

"Those of us who have worked with him know how good he is as a manager. Everyone in this squad is backing Stephen 100pc and from personal experience, I have always enjoyed playing under him.

"He's a brilliant man-manager and a great tactician. You are always fully aware of what your job is and what the opposition is all about when you go out on the field and he is very informed on every player he brings into the squad.

"Having a manager who speaks honestly and knows what your strengths and weaknesses are is refreshing. It means he knows what you can improve and what is expected of you.

"Stephen did an unbelievable job at Dundalk, we had some great results and performances during his time with the Under-21s and he earned this chance to take the senior team. Now it's up to the players to do all we can to make this a successful period - that means qualifying for the big tournaments."

Connolly picked up a knocking playing for Brighton, but he is hopeful of being fit for the game in Bratislava.

"I remember watching the Euro 2016 finals and when Robbie Brady scored that goal against Italy, the whole country went mad," he added.

FIFA 21 is available this Friday for PlayStation®4, Xbox One, PC via Origin™ and Steam plus Nintendo Switch.