Ireland v France: Callum O’Dowda an injury doubt as Robbie Brady is called up

Stephen Kenny says Ireland ‘will not accept a slow death’ against France

The Republic of Ireland have suffered a key injury ahead of facing France in their opening European Championships qualifier at the Aviva Stadium on Monday night. Callum O’Dowda picked up a groin strain during Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat of Latvia, which is significant enough for Robbie Brady to be called into the squad from Preston North End, while James McClean is set to win his 98th cap at left-wing back.

This is a significant blow to how Ireland intend to attack, according to Kenny who stated last week that O’Dowda is “the quickest player that we have in that position by some distance. We have good players that can counter attack but he’s rapid and we’ll need that against France – we need speed, that’s important.”

Surprisingly, Adah Idah has been declared available and comes into the reckoning to play alongside Evan Ferguson if Kenny sticks to a 3-5-2 system. Norwich City manager David Wagner had previously ruled Idah out of contention due to a foot injury.

“Adam Idah is fully fit, he is okay,” said Kenny, “he is absolutely fully fit and ready to go. He comes into our plans. He trained well yesterday and he has been playing consistently for Norwich every week, so he comes back into the squad.”


Idah has not played consistently for Norwich since returning from a knee injury in December, finishing just five of 16 games and scoring just one goal.

Confusion reigns over Seámus Coleman’s availability after the Everton skipper picked up a thigh strain last week.

“No, he is not ruled out,” said Kenny. “We will have to see how today goes at training.”

Coleman remains in contention to start as the right centre back, following underwhelming displays by Andrew Omobamidele and Dara O’Shea against Latvia.

France report zero injuries following their 4-0 humiliation of top seeds The Netherlanads in Paris on Friday night, when Kylian Mbappé scored twice.

“Kill the opponent, be dangerous from the first minutes,” Mbappé told his team-mates in his first speech as Les Bleus captain.

Kenny rejected the suggestions that Ireland should park the bus with two defensive low blocks.

“No absolutely not,” said the Dubliner. “We’ve been working on a way of playing for the last two years. We’re very, very comfortable in possession, as comfortable as any team in Europe now in possession.

“Why would we change now? Why would we take a step back now? This is the time that the team needs to show conviction, when the lights come on in the Aviva and the atmosphere is rocking as it will ever be and as electric as it will ever be.

“And France, one of the best teams in the world coming at us, do we just suddenly change and not have to courage to do that? And just accept a slow death?

“Definitely not. And I think we’ll show, and we’ll need to show, fire and ice. We need to show fire, we need to have that level of tenacity in our play and aggression in our play but also have composure in possession and have that level of calm in our play in possession. And it’s trying to combine the two. It’s not easy, not easy against the best team in the world who are in formidable form as we saw the other night but that’s the way we will definitely approach it.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent