Stephen Kenny: 'I don't feel pressure'

Stephen Kenny and Keith Andrews discuss tactics during Ireland's defeat to Ukraine.

Stephen Kenny and Keith Andrews discuss tactics during Ireland's defeat to Ukraine. Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

Rónán McNamara reports from FAI HQ

Stephen Kenny insists he doesn’t feel under pressure after the Republic of Ireland suffered back-to-back defeats away to Armenia and at home to an understrength Ukraine side over the past week.

It’s now twelve games without a win for Ireland in the UEFA Nations League with just two goals scored between the end of Martin O’Neill’s reign and during Stephen Kenny’s tenure with dreams of a promotion push turning into the stark reality of a relegation battle.

The Boys in Green who had lost just once in twelve matches before this week welcome Scotland to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening looking for their first points of the campaign to lift them off the bottom of the table.

“I don’t feel pressure,” said Kenny. “Internally I am disappointed we have not got points on the board, I have professional pride and I feel disappointed with that. I thought in the game against Ukraine I felt every player gave every ounce of themselves. OK we could have made better of the opportunities in the final third when we broke 3v3 or 4v4 we didn’t quite get the right pass or create the chances we wanted to create.

“We went through the game without conceding a chance apart from the 95th minute on the counter. Ukraine a good team restricted to long range efforts. It was a physically demanding game for both teams, it was pretty even but they controlled midfield quite well. We had most of the play on the night but obviously didn’t get the clear cut chances we wanted.”

There have been calls for the team to be freshened up after a long season at domestic level and Kenny has revealed he will make a number of changes to the starting XI for tomorrow’s game against the Scots while Seamus Coleman and John Egan have been ruled out of the remaining two games of this window.

“Seamus Coleman is ruled out. He came in with the groin injury he had at the end of the season so he has left the camp. John Egan is ruled out with an ankle injury and we have one or two late fitness tests so hopefully they will be ok.

“We definitely need to (freshen things up). It was such an open game the other night, the physical data was extremely high on the demands of the players. It was such a stretched game and the demands of the game were huge so we will definitely freshen it up for tomorrow.

“We are going to get ourselves ready there will be changes in the team, opportunities for other players to make their claim. The atmosphere in the team is always good, there’s a good attitude we are just disappointed we haven’t got points. We have lost two games without hardly conceding a chance. I thought the back three, Nathan Collins, Duffy and Egan were on top of their opponents.

“We are going into the game against Scotland with a home crowd, we know that we have a passionate home crowd. Scotland have been on a good run of results with the exception of Ukraine, they have a strong squad and from our point of view, a full house and we want to go and win the game and be positive in our approach,” he added.