Stephen Kenny rules out wholesale changes for Qatar clash

Stephen Kenny

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Stephen Kenny has ruled out making sweeping changes against Qatar tomorrow as he wants to keep the momentum going.

But Josh Cullen and Daryl Horgan are likely to miss out as they nurse knee and ankle injuries respectively.

Jason Knight is available after missing Saturday’s 3-0 win in Azerbaijan having been struck down with a fever in Baku.

And Liverpool No 2 Caoimhin Kelleher will make his first start in goal with Gavin Bazunu set to be rested.

Kenny said today: “There’s a doubt about Josh who jarred his knee in the game the other night so we’ll see how he is and Daryl had some discomfort in his ankle.

Manager Stephen Kenny and Callum Robinson

“There won’t be wholesale changes. It’s a great game for us to try and build on Saturday night.

“Qatar are like a club team in that they’ve played 17 games since March between Copa America, the Asian Cup (holders) and also in the CONCACAF getting to the semi-finals.

“They are obviously in this group too. They’ve had a lot of games and they’re a good team, a very athletic team, 3-5-2, they use the space on the pitch very well.

“It’s an interesting challenge for us and we want to do well. We’ve got a home crowd, a 25,000 sellout (capacity is restricted for Covid reasons) which for a friendly is terrific.

“We would like to win the game but we’ll have to earn the right to do that as Qatar have had some good results over the year. They’re a very attacking team.”

Kenny confirmed that Kelleher will start in goal and admitted that it was not an easy call to make back in March to start Bazunu as No 1.

That decision has been justified but Kenny said: “Caoimhin is a real natural goalkeeper, he’s a terrific talent.

“He played 10 times for me as under-21 manager so I’m obviously well aware of his qualities.

“He did terrifically well, he was just unfortunate last season when he was injured and that opened the door in March for Gavin Bazunu who has been terrific.

“Caoimhin made his debut at half-time in the game against Hungary but this is his first start tomorrow and in front of the home crowd so he deserves it.”

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