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'Current Ireland squad the weakest I can remember | John Giles

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

20:35 1 Apr 2021

John Giles feels that the players in the Ireland squad are the weakest in recent memory and it is hurting Stephen Kenny's ability to play progressive football.

"It is mainly down to the quality of the players," Giles said of Ireland's struggles on Thursday's Off The Ball.

"I think the players that Stephen has now in the squad are probably the least gifted [Irish team] in a long time and he is very unlucky in that particular way.

"If Stephen were to pick a team tomorrow, I think he would find it difficult to know what is his best team is."

Looking back to the Ireland teams of the past, Giles highlighted the players that surrounded him in the 1950s, many of whom were playing for "top teams" in England at the time.

That trend continued right into the 2000s' and Ireland were blessed with several extremely talented footballer's like Roy Keane, Robbie Keane and Denis Irwin, to name but a few.

Each of these men played for some of the finest clubs in European football during their careers.

Roy Keane playing for Ireland Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSFILE

In recent times the standard of players that Ireland have produced have failed to reach similar heights at club level, for a myriad of reasons.

"When you look back over the years at the squads of players we have had at different times, I think this is the weakest team that I can remember," Giles said.

"There are only about three players that are playing at what you might class as really, really first-class football [teams]. Seamus Coleman and one or two others who are playing at teams that are challenging.

"There are more lads near the bottom of the league than the top of the league [in England]."

Ireland Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

The consequence of all of this for Ireland?

It has impacted Kenny's ability to implement the vision he has for the Irish team, according to Giles.

"I am sorry to say for Stephen's sake, I do not think he has the players to play in a way that he thinks that they should be playing," Giles said.

"I think we can do a bit more [with the ball] than what we are doing.

"I do not think that we have any outstanding midfield players.

"It is no good looking for players to play in the middle of the field, in a certain way, if you have not got the players.

"I don't think we have the players to play in the way that Stephen wants us to play in the middle of the field."

Should Kenny adapt his approach for the summer friendlies and September's trip to Portugal?

Giles is firmly of the belief that the manager could not have made many changes to the teams approach for the games against Serbia and Luxembourg considering the limitations of the squad.

However, for Ireland's next outing he may be forced to introduce a touch of pragmatism.

Ireland Picture date: Saturday March 27, 2021.

"When you get a group of players, what you have to do, regardless of how you want them to play, you have to play in an effective way," Giles continued.

"Sometimes that is not so attractive. You have to say 'this is the group I have, how best can I get them to win matches.

"Ultimately you have to win matches."

Having come out strongly to condemn his recent critics, it remains to be seen whether or not Kenny will tweak Ireland's approach over the coming months.

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FAI Ireland John Giles Stephen Kenny

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