Chiedozie Ogbene, Manning, Cannon, and Browne miss Irish training camp ahead of Euro qualifiers
CHIEDOZIE OGBENE, ALAN Browne, Ryan Manning and Tom Cannon are all doubts for Ireland’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Greece and Gibraltar next month having missed a four-day training camp in Bristol this week.
The Irish players whose Championship and League One seasons have finished – along with a few League of Ireland draftees – spent four days working in Bristol this week as preparations begin for the games against Greece in Athens on 16 June and at home to Gibraltar on 19 June.
The squad for these games will be named next week.
Ogbene and Browne would represent the biggest losses were they to be ruled out of the games, with Ogbene outstanding against France last month and Browne a regular goalscorer from midfield. His ability to play at right wing-back would also be missed given Seamus Coleman is already ruled out with injury.
Ogbene suffered a hamstring tear on the final day of the Championship season, with Stephen Kenny saying today that they have to wait and see whether he will be fit to play a part next month. The same was said for Browne, who is recuperating from a knee injury that first sidelined him in April.
Manning, meanwhile, has struggled for opportunities under Kenny despite an impressive season for Swansea in the Championship, but withdrew from the Bristol camp as he is managing an injury.
Cannon did not link up with the squad because of a bout of tonsillitis. The striker has not earned an official senior call-up yet, with the Bristol camp his first form of recognition having played for the Irish U21s earlier this year. The English-born striker impressed at Preston during a loan spell from Everton this season, scoring eight goals in 20 appearances.
Bohemians goalkeeper James Talbot was also uninvolved having initially been named, with John Egan absent for family reasons. Egan will be available for inclusion in the squad for the double-header of qualifiers.
Jeff Hendrick missed the Bristol camp through injury but it is hoped he will be fit to contend for that squad, while Coleman, Andrew Omobamidele, and Callum Robinson are all out with injury.
Former Sligo goalkeeper Ed McGinty was brought in to replace Talbot, with Peterborough’s Jack Taylor linking up with the squad after his side’s dramatic penalty-shootout defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the League One play-offs.
Shamrock Rovers’ wing-back Neil Farrugia was involved in the camp, as was Derry City goalkeeper Brian Maher. It was the duo’s first time with the squad, with Hull’s Sean McLoughlin and Danny McNamara of Millwall also included for the first time.
There were no Premier League players involved in the camp as their season is not yet finished, with Mikey Johnston (Vitoria Guimaraes) and Matt Doherty (Atletico Madrid) in a similar boat.
Ireland’s preparations for June’s double-header are extensive as Kenny aims to avoid a repeat of last year, when the Nations League campaign was rocked with a lifeless 1-0 defeat away to Armenia.
“We found it very valuable”, Kenny told the FAI’s in-house media team. “The Championship is the only league that finishes six weeks before the international games. The other international leagues play right up to the international window, and the Greek players, for example, will be playing all the way up to the window.
“Because the majority of our players are in the Championship, that presents a challenge, and one we are happy to take on. The other side of it is they play 46 games in the Championship, and in a World Cup year it has been even more condensed, playing midweek matches every week, with some players playing on with injuries. There is a balancing act and we have to tailor each programme for each player. These four days in Bristol have been a good start.”
Kenny will name his squad for the double-header next week, with the squad flying to Antalya in Turkey for a nine-day, warm-weather training camp, which is expected to feature a friendly game behind closed doors.
Kenny said he also expects Matt Doherty to make a first start for Atletico Madrid on the final day of their La Liga season, against Villarreal.