5 talking points ahead of Republic of Ireland’s friendly against New Zealand
Ireland end the calendar year against the All Whites in Dublin.
The Republic of Ireland’s friendly clash with New Zealand on Tuesday night will signal the end of one international career and perhaps two as a difficult calendar year draws to a close.
James McClean is set to make his 103rd and final appearance for his country in a fixture which could be manager Stephen Kenny’s last in charge, with his current contract due to expire on the final whistle.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the talking points surrounding the game at the Aviva Stadium.
Return of the Mac
They think it’s all over
The Football Association of Ireland will consider a review of the campaign which ended at the Johan Cruyff Arena at its scheduled board meeting next week, and the outcome is unlikely to be positive for out-of-contract manager Stephen Kenny. The 52-year-old is convinced the framework is in place for a brighter future after a major refit which has seen him hand out 26 competitive debuts in his three-and-a-half years at the helm, but whether or not he remains in place to build upon that work is a mater of some contention.
Kenny’s trawl for new talent has seen him repeatedly dip into the nation’s resources at under-21 level, with the likes of goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, defenders Dara O’Shea and Nathan Collins, midfielder Jason Knight and striker Evan Ferguson now established as regulars in his team. He could hand Brighton midfielder Andy Moran, currently on loan at Sky Bet Championship Blackburn, a first senior cap after drafting him in from Jim Crawford’s squad as they prepared for European Under-21 Championship qualifiers against Norway and Italy to continue that trend.
Give us a goal
Kenny freely admitted in the wake of the defeat in Amsterdam, which saw his side draw their fourth blank in eight qualifiers, that creativity and a lack of goals had become a problem. Seven of their nine goals in the campaign came in the two games against Gibraltar – for context, group winners France put 14 past the minnows at the weekend – and the other two were a Collins equaliser from a corner in Greece and an Adam Idah penalty against the Dutch at the Aviva Stadium.