Irish soccer can't afford a talent like Man City's Liam Delap slipping by

Patrick Bamford, Declan Rice and Jack Grealish are among the brilliant players that got away
Irish soccer can't afford a talent like Man City's Liam Delap slipping by

Manchester City's Liam Delap celebrates scoring in a Carabao Cup cup at the Etihad Stadium. Picture: PA.

FAI chairman Roy Barrett has indicted - even after the humiliating defeat to Luxembourg - that Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny could be given a contract extension if Ireland 'keep making progress'.

Kenny’s contract runs out next year, so what progression does the Irish manager have to make with his team to keep his job? Win all or most of the remaining World Cup qualifying games? Keep developing younger players?

I believe Kenny is a manager on borrowed time and it is inevitable that he will lose his job.

I was an advocate that the former Dundalk manager be given the chance to manage the national team, but between the video incident, staff resigning, and now, one of the most embarrassing defeats in Irish football history against Luxembourg, it has been one disaster after another for Kenny.

I’m always interested to hear managers' and players' thoughts post-match and see their body language.

When Ireland captain Seamus Coleman spoke after the Luxembourg game, he spoke honestly calling the defeat “embarrassing” and I could see how angry he was. I could tell there was fight in the player to put things right in the future, but I didn’t get that feeling from Kenny.

Yes, after the result he was obviously going to be disappointed, but he looked a broken man and someone who was out of his depth.

Kenny kept referring back to the Serbia game as though Ireland had won the match. 

He seems uncomfortable in interviews and if he struggles in front of the media, I can’t imagine what he is like talking to a room full of players who get paid thousands of euros every week.

Patrick Bamford is a player who qualifies to play for Ireland through an Irish grandparent.

Yes, Ireland have approached the Leeds United striker on numerous occasions, and he has refused to commit.

Kenny spoke about how Bamford has a relationship with the Irish fitness coach Damien Doyle after the pair worked together at MK Dons and that Bamford made it clear he wasn’t interested in representing Ireland but why hasn’t Kenny reached out to the Leeds striker himself?

Is he afraid that the former Chelsea striker will say no and he might look a bit foolish for trying to convince a player that has rejected the country on several occasions?

Bamford may well reject Ireland but at least then, Kenny can say he tried everything to persuade him rather than say his fitness coach talked to Bamford.

Leeds United's Patrick Bamford. Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire.
Leeds United's Patrick Bamford. Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire.

As a player you want to hear from the manager, I don’t think Gareth Southgate left it up to his fitness coach to convince Declan Rice to switch allegiances.

Considering Bamford is having the best season he probably ever will in football and still can’t get into the England squad, he might finally start to believe that he will never get an England cap and if he wants to play international football then representing Ireland is the only way. 

Obviously, it’s always better if a player chooses to play for Ireland because it was their first choice, but beggars can’t be choosers and Bamford would certainly help Ireland’s goal-scoring problems.

When Southgate omitted Bamford from his latest England squad, Kenny should have been on the phone to Bamford telling him how good a player he is and that he would be Ireland’s main man.

What Kenny has done well as Ireland manager is bring younger players into the squad. A player that has a bright future ahead of him and one that Kenny has admitted being “very aware of” is Man City striker Liam Delap.

The 18-year-old is highly thought of at City having already made his first-team debut scoring in a 2-1 victory in the League Cup against Bournemouth back in September and has scored 20 goals in 15 league appearances for City’s under-23.

Although Delap was born in England, he qualifies to play for Ireland through his grandparents and his dad Rory has more than 10 caps for Ireland. If Delap does fulfil his potential and becomes as good a player as everyone at City believes he will be, in a few years Ireland will have a fight on their hands to persuade the youngster to represent the Boys in Green. Kenny should give him a competitive international cap.

It’s worth Ireland scarifying results and capping younger players to tie them down to the country in case they do become stars like Rice and Jack Grealish.

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