Stephen Kenny not distracted by speculation over his future ahead of Gibraltar clash

Stephen Kenny has stated that he does not need any further clarification regarding his future ahead of tomorrow’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Gibraltar in Faro.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference at the Estadio Algarve, the Ireland manager said that speculation regarding his future is not a distracting factor as he has been assured that he will remain in charge of the team for the duration of the campaign.

Two games remain in the group phase as Ireland take on the bottom-placed side before they travel to Amsterdam in November to finish their campaign against the Netherlands.

“No, I have to be realistic, it was perfectly clarified,” said Kenny, when asked was the ongoing speculation over his future a distraction to match preparations.

“[FAI chief executive] Jonathan Hill perfectly clarified it when he said that Stephen would be the manager until the games in November, and they’ll have a review and assess that. At the moment that’s out of my control.

“In this camp it was important to try and win against Greece, we haven’t managed to do that, I understand that, that it’s not a good result for us.

“But from my point of view, I am contracted to the end of the campaign, so I just want to finish the campaign strong. If there is a play-off we can assess that, but finish the campaign strong and take it from there. We are motivated to do that, finish the campaign strong.”

Despite the disappointing loss to Greece on Friday night, the manager has no concerns regarding his players’ attitude for such a low-profile game, and does not feel he will need to offer any extra motivation ahead of the game.

“Playing for Ireland, it’s all the players’ ambition to play for Ireland,” said the manager. “Anyone who doesn’t play the game is disappointed, obviously, because it’s a huge honour to play for Ireland.

Calls for Kenny to go have grown in the wake of the loss to Greece.

“They play their whole career with that in mind. Motivation is not an issue when you put on the green shirt.

“Yes, we’re out of the running which we’re disappointed with. We acknowledge that. Tomorrow, it’s an international game, it’s one we want to win.”

The manager did reveal that midfield prospect Andy Moran was scheduled to join the first team following the Under-21s’ victory in Latvia on Friday, however, the on-loan Blackburn man picked up an injury so has not travelled.

Otherwise, Kenny has a fully fit squad to choose from ahead of the Gibraltar encounter.

“Andrew Moran was due to join up with the squad after the Under-21 game but he got an ankle injury in the game and had to be substituted so he hasn’t joined up, so everyone else is fit,” said Kenny.

Three points are expected in any game against Gibraltar, and while the travelling Ireland fans may be looking for a goal-fest to help deal with the defeat to Greece, the manager was wary of predicting an easy night at the office, considering that they were scoreless at half-time in the reverse fixture in Dublin last year.

“No international is easy,” said Kenny. “Gibraltar has a small population and their own challenges but they made it difficult for Ireland in the previous campaign, winning 1-0 in a tight game here. It was in Gibraltar of course.

“You can’t take anything for granted. We were nil-all [at half-time at the Aviva] and won 3-0.

“You have to earn the right to win every game and that’s the way we view it.”

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