Kenny mops up Connolly confusi...


Kenny mops up Connolly confusion as Brighton striker misses qualifiers

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Stephen Kenny says a lack of fitness led to Aaron Connolly's omission from his latest Republic of Ireland squad. 

The absence of the Brighton striker's name was the headline-grabber as Kenny revealed the 26 players entrusted with getting results this month from Portugal and Luxembourg.

Connolly started the ill-fated game against the former in Faro in September, but was an unused substitute for the recent wins over Azerbaijan and Qatar.

The 21-year old had a similar brief for the Seagulls in recent Premier League games, but wasn't included in their matchday squad for last week's 2-2 draw with Liverpool.

Brighton boss Graham Potter caused some confusion ahead of Kenny's press conference by saying Connolly would "respect" the Ireland manager's decision to omit him.

But Kenny insists the Galwegian's absence is one that's been forced upon him.

"I went to at Leicester last week to watch Aaron play, actually," said the Ireland manager, "Aaron and Shane Duffy played for Brighton against Leicester in the Carabao Cup.

"It was great to see him get 90-minutes in because he's not had that quite often over the last fair period of his career.

"To be honest with you, he's had a heel issue since then.

"He missed the league game last week, he hasn't trained at all, he's not able to train at the moment, so on that basis he's been left out."

Regarding Potter's comments, Kenny said, "I spoke to Graham mid-week - I have a good relationship with Graham - and he [Connolly] hasn't been training for Brighton.

"I spoke to Aaron yesterday myself, and we both decided - he didn't feel he was really right. Although technically he could possible be available next Thursday for selection but he hasn't been able to train, or he hasn't been training at all. He feels sore."

Competition for places means Gavin Kilkenny will continue having to bide his time for a senior call-up.

The 21-year old has been a key figure for Championship high-fliers Bournemouth this season. The Cherries' first defeat - a 2-1 loss at home to Preston - this week came with Kilkenny left on the bench.

There have been calls to promote the talented midfielder, but Kenny says he'll have to wait.

"Obviously I know Gavin," the Ireland boss said, "He's played for me at U21 level. He's having a very good season.

"The midfield area is very competitive at the moment. Obviously Alan Browne coming back in - he played well in beating Bournemouth last night - and Jayson Molumby coming back in.

"In that area, Jack Taylor hasn't made it, and he's been really good for Peterborough this year. He's someone that has done really well.

"Gavin is a player, of course... the U21 games will be great for him, and certainly he'll have every chance in the future."

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Aaron Connolly Graham Potter Ireland Luxembourg Portugal Republic Of Ireland Stephen Kenny

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