Keith Andrews explains why Ireland will not change their approach under Stephen Kenny

“We haven’t got the personnel to play that.”

Keith Andrews has hit back at criticism of Stephen Kenny and the Republic of Ireland’s attempts to play a possession-based game.

There have been calls for Ireland to return to a more direct way of play following a poor run of form. The national team have failed to win any of their 11 matches under Kenny.

Andrews, who is Kenny’s assistant manager for Ireland, however, has said that they do not have the players at their disposal to revert to a more direct approach that was favoured by their predecessors.

Keith Andrews on why Ireland will not change their approach under Stephen Kenny.

“Old-fashioned 4-4-2, are we talking that, playing direct? We haven’t got the personnel to play that,” Andrews said on Virgin Media Sport.

“We haven’t got a big target man we can play off direct. A lot of the younger players play in a certain way for their clubs and through our underage and we know them really well.

“When you don’t win in 11 games, you have to take criticism. What we’re trying to do absolutely suits the players.”

Andrews also addressed the criticism Kenny and the management team have received. Several ex-Ireland players have questioned the manager’s position with Paul McGrath calling for him to be dismissed.

The former Ireland and Blackburn Rovers midfielder, however, has said they are prepared to take “short-term pain” as they work towards “long-term gain.” They aim to forge “a team that we are proud of watching.”

Keith Andrews: Some senior Ireland players were unhappy to be left out of Luxembourg defeat.

The Ireland assistant manager admitted that some of the squad’s more senior players were unhappy to be omitted from the starting line-up to play Luxembourg.

Ireland lost the match 1-0 against the lowest-ranked side in Group A, a defeat that dealt a massive blow to the team’s World Cup qualification hopes.

Andrews, however, said that there were factors behind some of the more senior players being left out of the team for the match in Dublin, such as physical conditioning related to some players’ lack of game time at club level.

“If you’ve got 50, 60, 70 caps and you see a player fresh off the 21s or just making his way at a club, your nose is going to be put out of joint, there’s no doubt about that,” Andrews said.

“Has there been a couple of frowns and people getting down? That’s natural. That’s what you have to deal with it.

“The one thing I would say is there are no divine rights to caps, in my opinion. There certainly wasn’t when I played and I don’t think it is the case now. But the attitude of the players has been impeccable.

“The issue we had, James McClean is an example, he couldn’t start the first game physically. Robbie Brady, unfortunately, got injured again and is a constant concern.”

Finally, Andrews said the defeat to Luxembourg was a “tough one to take” and that the team’s “physical stats were down.”

However, he stated that he felt Ireland’s performance in the 1-1 draw with Qatar was a “good reaction” to the Luxembourg loss and that there is a sense of “togetherness” in the camp.

You can watch Andrews speak about Ireland below.

Read next – Eamon Dunphy on why Ireland must stick with ‘unlucky’ Stephen Kenny.


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