Kenny calls for his team to show a strong mentality in Ukraine match

Stephen Kenny speaking at Tuesday's pre-match press conference in the Aviva Stadium ahead of Ukraine game

Stephen Kenny speaking at Tuesday's pre-match press conference in the Aviva Stadium ahead of Ukraine game Credit: Brian F Smyth (ETPhotos)

Andrew Donovan reports from the Aviva Stadium

The Republic of Ireland will have to go into the game against Ukraine with a strong mentality according to manager Stephen Kenny. 

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s UEFA Nations League game in the Aviva, Kenny maintained his positivity despite confirming injuries to two key men in Seamus Coleman and Gavin Bazunu. 

The Donegal man should hopefully feature before the end of this four match UEFA Nations League series in June but the former Shamrock Rovers goalkeeper is ruled out with a minor rib fracture.

Describing the loss to Armenia as both disappointing and a kick in the teeth, Kenny says the boys in green will have to switch on quickly in front of a large home crowd in what is sure to be a special occasion considering the opposition in Ukraine who are still competing despite their country at war following Russia’s invasion of their homeland.

Ireland’s loss to Armenia was a first defeat in eight for the Ireland and was a disappointing performance particularly from the forward players in Yerevan. Kenny wasn’t criticising anyone specifically and was quick to praise the squad for the efforts shown over the past year. 

“We had enough chances to win the game and the early goal is critical,” said Kenny speaking at the pre-match press conference at Lansdowne Road. “We got that in Azerbaijan and won 3-0 and we got that in Luxembourg and won 3-0.”

Kenny intimated that he will stick with much the same team as played against Armenia despite the travel but that there might changes for the Scotland game on Saturday due to the shorter turnaround of three days between games. 

“We were on a good run of form and players were scoring goals so just because we have a setback that doesn’t mean we necessarily change the team.”

It means that Will Smallbone will not be parachuted into the first team despite Kenny hailing his performance as “exceptional” for the under 21s against Montenegro on Monday evening.

He said Smallbone definitely has a future with the senior international team if he continues his recent form.