Ireland are in danger of slipping into Pot 3 for the World Cup draw and Kenny has explained why the friendly with England is a good thing.
After the FAI announced that Ireland will play a friendly against England at Wembley on November 12th, some Irish fans began to worry about the impact that the match could have on Ireland’s seedings for the World Cup draw.
After New Zealand were unable to travel to Wembley for next month’s fixture, the FAI agreed to the match but as things stand, Ireland are very close to dropping into Pot 3 for the World Cup qualification draw.
As things stand, Ireland are at the bottom of Pot 2 – a single point above Slovakia, who top Pot 3.
Obviously, being in the second pot could mean that Ireland get a more favourable draw as they bid to reach the World Cup in Qatar.
Stephen Kenny was a guest on Off the Ball and the Irish manager was asked if he had any reservations about taking on a friendly against an elite nation like England, especially due to the increased likelihood of Ireland being beaten, which could impact the FIFA rankings and seedings.
AS IT STANDS World Cup Qualifying Pots. Teams highlighted in green are LOCKED into their pots. Still a lot to play for in November.
Pots 2 & 3 are wide open. pic.twitter.com/IVFLOAtxRm
— We Global Football (@We_Global) October 14, 2020
“Yeah, we considered everything. We deliberated and we considered all the possibilities. We took advice from the medical team and from all parties. The key thing for us was that we didn’t want a situation like the Wales game – where we went into the game without 13 members of our squad and that’s not even including the earlier injuries to Troy Parrott, Darragh Lenihan, Seamus Coleman, Harry Arter.
“Then against Slovakia, we lose David McGoldrick, James McClean, and Derrick Williams. Then comes the close contacts – Calum O’Dowda, Calum Robinson, John Egan, and Alan Browne. We also didn’t have Aaron Connolly or Adam Idah because they were in their bedrooms at home because they were isolating,” said Kenny.
You can view Kenny’s interview below, but Ireland’s assistant coach Keith Andrews was also asked the same question on Virgin Media Sport while he was providing punditry work on Ajax vs Liverpool.
Andrews said that Ireland’s seeding position was a consideration but when all factors were considered – especially COVID-19 – it was felt the game against England was the right choice.
“It’s a decision that wasn’t taken likely because of the circumstances with seedings, points available, and weighing that up,” said Andrews.
“If we’re being honest, Bosnia aren’t as much of a force as England would be, even with England possibly having one eye on their game against Belgium three or four days later. On paper, it’s probably an easier game [against Bosnia] but when you factor in everything in terms of travel and how much we have control of the [Covid-19] situation, then it just makes sense. We’ll see if it makes sense after the event.
“Ultimately, the challenge of playing England, it captures the imagination. Then, you’ve got to get your sensible hat on with the world that we’re living in, with Covid. Players can come straight to our base in England. It makes it logistically very safe.”
In terms of Ireland’s next fixtures, the friendly with England will be followed by Nations League matches against Wales on November 15th and Bulgaria on November 18th.
You can view Andrews’ comments below.
"The fact that players can come straight to our base in England makes it logistically very safe."
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) October 21, 2020