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Five pressing issues facing new Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny


Step up: Keith Andrews is part of the senior backroom team

Step up: Keith Andrews is part of the senior backroom team

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Robbie Keane

Robbie Keane

�INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Step up: Keith Andrews is part of the senior backroom team

The Football Association of Ireland have responded to the lengthy delay in the sport by bringing forward Stephen Kenny's appointment as manager of the Republic of Ireland.

With Mick McCarthy's second reign now over, we consider what Kenny's first steps should be.

Find a way to get some goals

During the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, McCarthy's side scored only seven times in eight matches, with one an own-goal.

A 1-0 win against lowly Gibraltar was perhaps the most glaring demonstration of the struggles in attack and Kenny simply has to find a cutting edge.

The job will not be easy, with only two current players boasting double figures on the international stage (Shane Long 17 and James McClean 10), so Kenny must unearth a poacher or sharpen the instincts of the ones who are currently on board.

Evolve the team's playing style

Kenny has won admirers for the expansive brand of football he has encouraged, predominantly at Dundalk but also since beginning work with the Under-21s.

The task ahead represents a considerable step change, with quality of opponents, levels of scrutiny and external pressures all raised. Now is not the time to dial back natural instincts, though, and he must live up to expectations he will encourage progressive tactics.

Find the right backroom team

Kenny has worked closely with former Blackburn midfielder Keith Andrews since joining the FAI and the pair will move up together.

Robbie Keane, the country's record goalscorer, has not yet been officially stood down.

Damien Duff, currently on the coaching rota at Celtic, will join the international set-up on August 1, while former Republic goalkeeper Alan Kelly has also been named as part of Kenny's team.

Focus on the next generation

Like any international side at a time of renewal, much emphasis is placed on the rising stars.

As such, one of Kenny's key tasks will be identifying and integrating those inexperienced prospects who might carry the green shirt forward. His work with the U21s means he already has a head start. Troy Parrott probably carries the highest hopes but has had minimal first-team opportunities at Tottenham, while Aaron Connolly (Brighton) and Michael Obafemi (Southampton) are also fighting for scraps.

Get the fans on side

Kenny would be advised to pay close attention to the PR game.

For a number of years the Republic's leadership has had different kinds of rocky relationships with the supporters. A sense of humility and clarity about his plans will set the foundations amongst the fanbase.

Belfast Telegraph