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Zack Elbouzedi

Zack Elbouzedi

SPORTSFILE

Zack Elbouzedi

Irish U21 winger Zack Elbouzedi feels that the double act of Stephen Kenny and Keith Andrews can give players the belief and the freedom they need to deliver success at senior level.

Elbouzedi thrived under new senior manager Kenny and his assistant Andrews last term, and wore the captain's armband in the second-half destruction of Sweden in November, which has proved to be the management duo's farewell at that level.

The U21s are on course for a shoot-out with Italy for automatic qualification to the finals as Kenny's replacement Jim Crawford assumes control.

Lincoln City's Elbouzedi has welcomed Crawford's promotion from the coaching staff in that age group but is also excited by where the seniors can go under a new style of management and his target now is to play his way into their thoughts, whenever football resumes.

"There's not going to be a rigid formation where you can't try things," says Elbouzedi.

"They (Kenny and Andrews) give you the freedom to try things and if you make mistakes, then try again. We had a very cohesive unit and a shape but there is freedom there too.

"Keith has an unbelievable knowledge of the game. During camps, he would take the attacking players and Jim (Crawford) would take the defensive players. He has a really good knowledge, it's infectious and he gets his point across well.

"Stephen had great belief in us. From day one, he said our goal was to qualify for the European Championships, it wasn't just to get to a play-off. When he went to Toulon, he said our goal was to win the tournament, not just to compete in it.

"We fully bought into what he wanted and you could see the results on the pitch. If you buy into that, you will like it," says Elbouzedi.