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Friday 20 September 2019

Kenny gives his u21s 'freedom'

Euro u-21 qualifier: Sweden v Rep of Ireland (Kalmar, 5.30pm)

Gavin Kilkenny has had a few good weeks for club and country
Gavin Kilkenny has had a few good weeks for club and country

Much of the Giovanni Trapattoni era saw players go out and play for Ireland with the shackles on.

But for the new crop of players trying to make their way in their career in the green shirt, the message from U21 team manager Stephen Kenny is to go out and express themselves, according to one of the most exciting attackers in that team.

Mick McCarthy name-checked Aaron Connolly, Jayson Molumby and Darragh Leahy as players who stood out for him from the U21 side's 1-0 win over Armenia in Dublin last Friday, that win sending them with confidence towards Sweden for tonight's game in Kalmar.

Gavin Kilkenny also impressed on his U21 debut, the Bournemouth player on a high right now as he's made his first-team debut for his club and also been called at U21 level in the space of a few weeks.

Following Kenny to the senior squad remains the goal and Beaumont lad Kilkenny says he's thriving under Kenny.

"Stephen is a great manager, especially with the attacking players, he lets us play free and he takes the shackles off," says Kilkenny.

"It's great to play under him, he really encourages us to express ourselves in the final third," added Kilkenny, admitting that more goals could, and should, have been scored at home to Armenia.

"We need to learn from that, put more of them away. It's all about learning, we are not in the first team yet, this is the U21 squad.

"Stephen going up to the senior squad can only be good for us all. He knows us and the way he wants to play. He will bring in young players who want to express themselves," added Kilkenny, who feels he has the backing of his club manager, Eddie Howe.

"I have been told I am part of the plans at the club, but I need to bide my time and keep going... I am close, I have been 19th man for the last two away games and I started in the League Cup, it was a good experience and I did ok."

Three points in Sweden tonight would make it three wins from three for Kenny's side.

The U21s have managed to win their first three qualifiers before and still not qualify, that run at the start of the campaign to get to Euro 2017, but avoiding defeat in Kalmar this evening would put Kenny's side in a very strong position, with far bigger tests to come in October, at home to Italy and away to Iceland.

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