Irish U21s manager Stephen Kenny has explained that he will have “no preconceived prejudices” going into his new role and that his main objective is to “promote players that are Irish.”
The former Dundalk boss took over from Noel King with the U21s in November and will become the senior manager in two years when Mick McCarthy steps away.
With just two years to put his stamp on the side, Kenny was asked about how important getting players qualified for Ireland will be during his tenure, something that has come under serious scrutiny since Declan Rice’s decision to step away from the Boys in Green and mull over his international options.
“I’ll make my own decisions and that won’t be the main objective, getting players qualified is not one of my main objectives.
“My main objectives is to pick the best players for the campaign, pick the players I think have the most potential in the future and try and nurture and develop them into a cohesive team.
“One that enjoys playing for Ireland, one that wants to play for Ireland more than anything and can play to a high level.”
Kenny has been a gatekeeper for the League of Ireland during his extended tenure in the division managing the likes of Derry City, Shamrock Rovers and most notably Dundalk.
So will the Tallaght natives affiliation with the domestic game mean that he’ll go out of his way to draft players from the league into his future squads?
Kenny doesn’t believe that will be the case.
“I’ll promote players that are Irish, I think that is the bottom line,” outlined Kenny.
“I don’t want to have preconceived prejudices.
“There are some players going on loan to Holland at the moment and in Italy and Germany so we can view everything. I don’t have a directive or a determined plan.
“We’ll pick the best Irish players and the players with the highest potential for the U21 team with the objective to be the best team we can but also with the wider objective to produce players for the first team and become senior internationals.”
Kenny was also quizzed on the issue that may arise given the clash between the games in the Airtricity League and the first set of qualifiers, however, the former Dundalk manager outlined that he did not have a quota on how many domestic players he could pick and that the clash would not be an issue.
“I think the initial qualifiers March is the only game, the opener against Luxembourg and then the next qualifier is not until September so I don’t see it as a huge issue.”