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Kenny bats away talk of Keane as coach in set-up

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Facing England for Stephen Kenny could be a help or a demoralising action

Facing England for Stephen Kenny could be a help or a demoralising action

Facing England for Stephen Kenny could be a help or a demoralising action

Stephen Kenny has said he is happy with the coaching staff, batting away any suggestion that he could bring Robbie Keane back into the Irish set-up.

Keane's former team-mate and Herald columnist Richard Dunne proposed the idea that the Ireland manager should look to the country's record goalscorer as a means of solving their problems in attacking areas.

The Tallaght man is still under contract to the FAI as a consequence of terms agreed in the construction of the succession plan that saw Kenny take over from Mick McCarthy.

However, Kenny was always told he could bring in his own staff and is happy to be working alongside Keith Andrews and Damien Duff.

Keane's situation with the FAI has yet to be resolved. He has been linked with the LA Galaxy manager's job but there is no vacancy there at the moment.

Striker

"Robbie Keane was a great striker for Ireland and he was important to Mick McCarthy as part of his (coaching team)", Kenny told Off The Ball last night. "Richard is entitled to his opinion. Richard and Robbie would be close. Richard has been a great player for Ireland also.

"Keith Andrews was my assistant with the U-21 team, he did a brilliant job and is a very innovative coach. Damien Duff has been exceptional on the training ground. We've two young coaches and they have brought a lot to their attacking play."

The confirmation of a Wembley showdown would normally have prompted an overwhelmingly positive response, but this is a 2020 solution to a 2020 problem.

There is no jackpot for the FAI here. The only financial benefit is that it will be cheaper than the proposed jaunt to Sarajevo, the English FA are helping with aspects of identifying a base too.

Logistical motivations primarily lie behind the decision, although Kenny will relish the football challenge.

England had a free night after New Zealand decided fulfilling their scheduled visit was unwise, while the prospect of a trip to Bosnia really didn't appeal to the FAI off the back of the travel issues they suffered in the October window. Bosnia also favoured a meeting with Iran.

With Ireland's November window consisting of an away date in Wales followed by the visit of Bulgaria to Dublin, the appeal of removing the need for a long-haul flight and allowing a team primarily based in the UK to stay there until coming home for Bulgaria is obvious.

Instead, there is a football risk attached to it with December's World Cup draw in mind.

As it stands, Kenny's side are just about clinging on to second-seed status, but the outcomes of their November triple-header will determine if they stay there.

The FIFA ranking system is a complicated beast with the weighting of points affected by the importance of the game and the quality of the opponents.

Ireland are ranked 20th in Europe at the moment, just ahead of Slovakia, Iceland and Northern Ireland, with Norway and Romania in punching distance too.

Their respective endeavours in November will shape the ranking picture, but the system takes into consideration that Ireland would be anticipated to lose to a top-tier side such as England.

It just about makes sense, given the FAI were only in a position to be flexible because England were at a loose end.

For a manager seeking momentum, it's a serious test. Kenny is in need of a win and a goal, and an on-song England have the ability to make life very difficult.


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