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Would Kenny Cunningham pitch Aaron Connolly straight into the Ireland match fray?

Raf Diallo
Raf Diallo

11:15 7 Oct 2019

It's not every day that an Irish player scores a Premier League brace. Indeed, it had been a full 20 years since that happened. Well, that's until Aaron Connolly put an end to it with a superb double against Tottenham.

The Brighton forward was on the tip of the tongue for Irish fans after Saturday afternoon. But the Galway native has immediately made the step into the Ireland senior squad as a late addition.

However, the Ireland Under-21 cap's chances of game-time against Georgia and Switzerland in crucial Euro 2020 qualifiers is unclear.

Former Ireland defender Kenny Cunningham joined us on OTB AM to discuss the weekend's Premier League. But he began by touching on the case of Aaron Connolly who he worked with briefly for Ireland's Under-19s.

"It's great for him and hopefully great for Ireland going forward in the immediate short-term future," he said.

"I worked with him for a small bit of time with the Under-19s. It's always difficult. Lads can make big strides I think in a very short period of time, particularly at 16, 17, 18 or 19.

"I'm talking about it in terms of emotional development here. But he always struck me as a lad [that's] quietly confident.

Style

"Although predominantly right-footed, he could use both feet. He predominantly played off the left of a three and quite effective cutting inside. So I was actually interested to see him playing at the weekend.

"He played just off the front really, in a central striker role with Neal Maupay high up the pitch and did really well. Physical strength was no problem to him."

But would Kenny be tempted to start him as a wildcard if he were in Mick McCarthy's shoes for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers? He believes a degree of caution would be wise.

"I think it's an easy one to say off the back of his performance at the weekend. He got two goals, he's the form striker and he's confident. But I think it's easy to say, 'Put him straight into the team,'" he said.

"It would be a very pressurised environment that he'd be coming into with Ireland next week. Two huge games: The Georgia game first and we know how important that is.

"The attitude will be, we can't afford to drop points in this when things are so close. So Aaron will feel that a little bit when he joins up with the squad and certainly when the game comes around.

"Mick will have a decision to make whether he wants to put that added pressure on young Aaron's shoulders by giving him a start in the game. But I'd have no problem whatsoever - that's a decision for Mick to make."

You can follow the full chat with Kenny on Aaron Connolly and more above via our YouTube channel.


Read more about

Aaron Connolly Brighton Euro 2020 Football Georgia Ireland Kenny Cunningham Tottenham

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