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Former Dundalk manager Vinny Perth believes the Republic of Ireland's performances have been affected by a lack of match sharpness and a transitional period.

Perth, former assistant manager to Ireland manager Stephen Kenny at Dundalk, gave his thoughts on a set of games that resulted in a draw and defeat against Bulgaria and Finland respectively.

"There was a big change in the group, so I expected that to take time, as most football people did," Perth said of the change in squad dynamics since Kenny started.

"I heard Kenny Cunningham and Gary Breen earlier and as much as Gary has been a 'Mick man' for a long time, I felt it was very balanced. They understood that this was going to take some time.

"I think that we have a mindset in Ireland of looking at the negatives, but there were a lot of positives in that performance. Ireland and Stephen will look to that instead of some of the negativity that has come around the performance."

Vinny Perth on Ireland

Perth believes that the two games in the Nations League pale in insignificance compared to Ireland's key playoff match against Slovakia.

"Credit to Finland, they are a decent side who have qualified. They had a good shape with the 5-3-2, [Shane] Duffy was saying sometimes they were two v two.

"I think Stephen has used the word 'experimental' around Ireland, so there was a little bit of that. They just had one day to prepare for that game, and that is part and parcel of it.

"Slovakia is the start of Stephen being judged, but there is plenty of time. Yes, there is pressure on - this is big boy football now.

"What comes with that is a little bit of pressure, but it is very early to start worrying too much about a manager."

Sharpness

Perth believes that a lack of match sharpness was at play during Ireland's under-cooked performances against their opponents.

"I watched England v Iceland the other day and it was very similar; England were really poor. England are at the same stage as us from a fitness and sharpness point of view.

"Finland last night were fitter, fresher and most of their players are back playing.

"I think Shane Duffy is the biggest example of it. He is a real leader for Ireland, he is someone Stephen made captain for the two games. But he looked just off it in sharpness.

"If you go back to the goal conceded against Bulgaria, a lot was said about the midfield but that will come from playing regularly for Celtic."

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