Stevens admits coronavirus very disruptive for the Boys in Green

Tue, Oct 13 2020

Enda Stevens and Michael O'Neill in the Aviva in November 2018 Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Much of the discussion surrounding the Ireland squad in the past week has been linked to off-field matters.

A false-positive coronavirus test within the camp meant Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah were removed from the squad only hours before the Slovakia match. 

Before the Wales game, a player tested positive for the virus, meaning that Ireland were left without the services of John Egan, Callum Robinson, Alan Browne and Callum O’Dowda. Subsequently on Sunday evening, a player tested positive, then negative on re-test and positive again on Monday.

Enda Stevens admitted that the fall-out from the testing issues was “very disruptive” to preparations for the two ties in question. 

“It upsets our rhythm, because the manager has a team picked and it's unfortunate when you hear so late [about the positives tests],” said Stevens speaking to the media prior to Ireland’s UEFA Nations League clash with Finland in Helsinki

“It's out of our hands really. As I said, it's just really unlucky for us. Especially the timing of it and all that. It's just something that we have to live with at the moment.

“But as footballers, we're just programmed to get on with things. There's a game ahead of us, we can't really be making excuses or anything like that.

“We've got a job to do and hopefully, we can do that tomorrow,” he added.

Enda Stevens believes that Ireland “warranted wins” in their matches against Wales and Slovakia, but their lack of goals hindered the performances.

“We’ve played really, really well,”. “I thought we’ve created some very good opportunities, especially over the last two games.

“It's just unfortunate we couldn't hit the net. We've been working hard on it in training, and I think the lads are confident.

“We're on top, we're dominating long spells in the games, that's the main thing. And I think if we keep creating chances, we're going to score, sooner rather than later.”

Stevens hopes that he can continue to build a fruitful partnership with Connolly on the left flank in Helsinki. The latter is back in the squad for the Finland game after missing last week‘s qualifier. 

“It's very important to play as much as you can with lads, and build up that relationship. Aaron's got a bright future ahead of him. 

“He's doing excellent for Brighton, and hopefully we can build up that relationship and create a lot of goals for Ireland.”

After a disappointing result against the Finns last month in the Aviva, Stevens has no doubts about his side’s ambitions tomorrow. 

“We're playing to win... it's a results business, and we all know that, we need to go out there and put on a good performance because we didn't really do ourselves any favours in the home game.”

“I know it was preseason time [last month], but we want to amend that result and go on there and beat a strong Finland team.”