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Stephen Kenny on plan to avoid repeat of Jack Grealish/Declan Rice scenarios

Stephen Kenny

Stephen Kenny insists he is not curious about what might have been when it comes to Jack Grealish and Declan Rice.

Ahead of the upcoming friendly between the Republic of Ireland and England, it was inevitable that questions would arise regarding Jack Grealish and Declan Rice.

Grealish and Rice were both eligible to declare for the Republic of Ireland but opted to play for their country of birth.

Stephen Kenny became Ireland manager after both Grealish and Rice arrived at their decisions but the new Irish boss hopes to avoid similar scenarios of drawn-out sagas regarding international allegiances.

Kenny told RTE: “What we can do is try to make the environment at all ages, all levels, as professional as possible, make sure there’s a clear pathway between the Under-15s and the senior international team, make sure the players are exceptional and move up the ages quicker, to accelerate their development. I think that’s very important.

“(We can) try to create an environment that players can really identify with, an identity for the Irish team.

Stephen Kenny

“And to be fair, all the players love playing for Ireland, in all of the age groups. There can be some misinformation maybe nowadays that players are not as committed – that wasn’t my experience when I came in and managed the players.

“I felt when they were left out of squads they were devastated and desperate to play.”

Kenny, who previously suggested that Grealish and Rice would currently be playing for Ireland if the system had been different, refuses to dwell on missing out on the two midfielders.

Kenny is determined to make his Irish side work without focusing on players who have pledged their loyalty to other national teams.

“Not really,” Kenny said when asked if he was left wondering what might have been.

“I think obviously they are both very good players. I’m very happy with some of the players we have. We have a lot of talent coming through.

“I think we have a lot of good players, a lot of talent, and we’re not far away from being a very good side.

“I can’t worry about other players that could have been part of the equation. We can’t really dwell on that from our point of view. We have to look forward and see what players are coming through and what other players emerge.”

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