Kenny coy on contract but keep...


Kenny coy on contract but keeps target of topping Nations League group

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The UEFA Nations League draw has done little to dampen Stephen Kenny's belief that the Republic of Ireland can top their group. 

Even before being grouped with Ukraine, Armenia and Scotland, the Ireland manager said winning their League B group was a realistic target.

Four games in a ten-day span in June will go a long way to determining the realisation of that ambition. Ireland face trip to Yerevan and Kiev in that period, in between the visits of Ukraine and Scotland.

"We're certainly excited by the group - it's a tough group," said Kenny, "We know it's a tough group.

"Ukraine have gotten to the quarter-finals of the European Championships, Scotland have been in the Euros - and they've obviously been going well of late. Armenia finished ahead of Iceland in the [World Cup qualifying] group.

"It's a tough group, but the plus side of that is all the teams will take points off each other. It's a very competitive group.

"We've just got to really focus on ourselves. Yeah, ok, we're third seeds - or we'd be third favourites to win the group - but our ambition is to win the group, or at least to try and get a playoff place for the European Championships.

"That's the ultimate goal - to qualify for the European Championships in Germany. First place in the Nations League gets you a playoff. Second - I'm in formed - is most likely to get you a playoff.

"We certainly want to give ourselves every opportunity of doing that."

Kenny had little to add about his contract status, with his current deal due to expire after that quartet of games in the summer.

However, it's believed talks over an extension have been progressing normally behind the scenes.

While not losing sleep about team selections that are six months - or more - away, Kenny has noted the uncertainty that's descended on player availability of late - as it relates to COVID-19.

His inaugural Nations League campaign was infamously ravaged by the virus, and he recalled the scoreless draw with Wales in October of last year when he had five of his starting XI ruled out on the morning of the game.

But Kenny feels his squad depth is in a much better place, even just a year down the road.

"I do think we've built a squad," he told OTB Sports, "And apart from being able to cope with losing players, and so forth, I think we're able to cope with the demands of a four-game window. Because that's new for the players."

Kenny added, "The demands are high, and that's why we've been building the squad.

"We've two players that can play right wing-back, two players that can play left wing-back, five centre-backs, four midfield players... so we've been building a squad that we're going to need.

"We don't have just one set XI now going forward, for these four games. [We're] building a squad that we're going to need those players for the four games, and there will be an element of rotation and so forth in that."

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Armenia Ireland Nations League Republic Of Ireland Scotland Stephen Kenny Uefa Nations League Ukraine

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