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Kenny says Robinson not the only Ireland player to refuse COVID vaccine


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Stephen Kenny says Callum Robinson is not the only player in his Republic of Ireland squad to have refused a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Robinson has contracted the virus twice, and has missed eight of the last thirteen Ireland games for virus-related reasons.

The West Brom striker last tested positive in late-August, forcing him to miss Ireland's World Cup qualifier away to Portugal.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's game with Azerbaijan, Robinson revealed he'd turned down the chance to be vaccinated despite testing positive twice.

"It's obviously annoying that I've caught it twice but I haven't been vaccinated," said the 26-year old.

"Further down the line I could change my mind and want to do it, but at this moment in time I haven't been vaccinated, no."

Kenny's tenure as Ireland boss has been beset by COVID-19 related issues, almost from day one.

He was asked if - given the number of Ireland games he's missed - Robinson's attitude towards the virus was "blasé".

"It may not necessarily be blasé," he responded, "It could be a strongly-held opinion. We may not agree with the opinion.

"I'm double-vaccinated myself. Of course, ideally we'd like everyone... I trust the medical experts. I'm not an expert myself in that field, far from it.

"I trust the medical experts, and they recommend that it gets done. It makes it a safer environment for everyone.

"We're not in a position that we can insist on it. We have to respect individuals' rights as well. And that's something that we've to learn to live with."

Kenny says Robinson is not alone in his stance. Without having the "exact numbers" to hand, he believes there are a number of players in his squad - albeit in single figures - who have also refused the vaccine so far.

Last week, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp compared anti-vaxxers to drink-drivers.

The German told reporters, "If I show up in the office drunk, they can send me home or even sack me, but we are not allowed to ask people [if they are vaccinated].

"I might be really naive, but I don’t understand it. I got the vaccination because I was concerned about myself, but even more so about everybody around me."

Kenny says he wouldn't consider dropping a player from his squad based on their vaccine reluctance.

"I think it would be a quite radical viewpoint to say 'right, whoever's not vaccinated is not being selected in the future'," the manager said on Tuesday.

"I'm not aware of anyone who's done that in any sport at the moment. So for me to just come and decide that would be extremely radical."

Ireland U21 manager Jim Crawford has effectively been forced to name two squads for the next week's European Championship qualifiers with Luxembourg and Montenegro.

He's added 13 Irish-based players to his panel, as Montenegro is on both the UK and Germany's 'red' travel lists. That means players based in those countries would have to isolate upon their return from the former Yugoslav nation.

Kenny was asked if there was a correlation between the U21 situation, and players' reluctance to be vaccinated.

"The fact that Montenegro are on the UK's 'red' list is something we can't get around at the moment," he said, "That's a very difficult situation for Jim Crawford and his team, and the U21s.

"I think for the individual association to just come together and say 'we're not selecting anyone who hasn't got it' would create problems we don't need to have for ourselves."

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