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'I think it has to be our aspiration to try and win the game'

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Stephen Kenny just doesn’t want to nick a win

Stephen Kenny just doesn’t want to nick a win

SPORTSFILE

Stephen Kenny just doesn’t want to nick a win

So we know that the Republic of Ireland 'only' need two wins from two away games over the next four weeks to make it to the Euro 2020 finals.

Given that the side have managed to win just one of the last 11 away games, and that one coming in Gibraltar, it's the sort of statistic that could deflate the national mood if thought about too much as the current squad prepare to fly out to Slovakia tomorrow.

Stephen Kenny can't change the past but he has to try and direct a future path for this squad.

The personnel he takes to Bratislava is not that different from the squad he inherited, but speaking at FAI HQ yesterday, as he awaited injury and fitness updates on the 10 players he had in action throughout the day with Harry Arter the latest injury doubt, he stressed how a positive attitude was key for the test ahead.

"It's not an easy question to answer because I wasn't part of the squad," he said when asked why Ireland's away record is so poor, the last major competitive win away from home coming three years ago.

"But I think we've got to approach the game, we can't have an inferiority complex, we have to be positive in the way that we approach it.

"We respect Slovakia, they have some terrific players but we've always got a lot of good players ourselves.

"I believe in the players we have and I really hope that a number of them come through fit today [Sunday] and have a better day than we did yesterday [Saturday].

"I think it has to be our aspiration to try and win the game rather than go with a game-plan to try and nick it, nick a win. We've actually got to go and be progressive in the way we're playing and try to win the game."

Health

Kenny has ruled out Seamus Coleman for Thursday's game and the subsequent Nations League matches against Wales and Finland, but the Ireland boss will spend today assessing the health of his squad after their weekend exertions.

Kevin Long (Burnley) was called up to replace Darragh Lenihan but Harry Arter is a concern due to an injury picked up on duty with Nottingham Forest while injury, and the resulting lack of game time for Robbie Brady and Callum O'Dowda, is also on his mind.

"We're trying to get Robbie fit, he did really well coming on against Bulgaria and I think he's a really good player, he just needs eight or nine games in a row," said Kenny. "O'Dowda, he's a very fit lad. He just tweaked a groin in the match against Finland and had to come off, and he's back training fully since the previous Saturday.

"He didn't get back into the Bristol City side, they are top of the Championship and won the four games so he didn't get in at the weekend but he's had a full week's training at full tilt and he will train with us over the next few days."