Stephen Kenny confirmed last Tuesday that Aaron Connolly and Adam Ida were in the wrong seats for the squad’s flight from Dublin to Bratislava.
Both players missed the Euro 2020 play-off defeat to Slovakia. Kovid-19 tested positive after the party arrived in the Slovak capital after being considered a close associate of a non-football staff member.
TheOn Saturday evening it was reported that both players had decided to take two spare seats in the back of the plane – behind a suspicious staff member and in an area not intended for players – more than the designated areas to the cabin.
“Yes, it seems so, yes,” said Kenny, who was reluctant to ask in detail about this at a pre-match conference ahead of the Nations League match against Wales.
“But, again, I didn’t know it because I was in the front of the plane.”
Connolly and Ida are out of the Nations League against Wales and Finland. While the two returned to clubs in England from Bratislava, the rest of the Ireland team returned to their base in Dublin.
Throughout the episode, which goes back to the steps taken when the first member of Team Bubble tested positive last Monday, questions have been raised about how the FAI deals with protocols related to Kovid.
Kenny described the staff member who tested positive in Slovakia as an indispensable and non-football member of the party.
Dubliner does not consider it “absolutely irresponsible” to make such public statements as a senior manager, but he does stress that the best staff and good people work with them.
“This is an unprecedented situation, for sure,” he added. “This is something we have to face … no doubt, everyone can learn, but it’s an unfortunate situation, and we have to live with it.”
Kenny would clearly like if the narrative shifted to the next two games, but he acknowledged that the Kovid situation, which lost him from two major attackers, was “not something that should have happened”.
He confirmed that Connolly had been penciled to start the playoffs and that the play had attracted undue attention ahead of such a win-win game.
Ultimately, he said, there was no guarantee of another outcome if two players were available. Ireland will have to go without them, as well as David McGoldrick, who suffered a hamstring injury in the next two matches.
The Sheffield United striker has at times performed well against the Slovakians, and his absence is another setback for a game that places great importance on Ireland in terms of rankings and seeding ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Although it has been confirmed that the Crystal Palace midfielder did not pull anything off before landing, James McCarthy, who landed on Thursday hour, is also in doubt. There is no mention of bringing in anyone as a replacement.
Following the first victory on the fourth attempt, Kenny said: “We have a lot to consider. The players played 120 minutes, but all international matches are very important and significant in the life of the players, although in the current situation there is not a full house.
“Some people think it undermines its importance, but it shouldn’t. That should still be an opportunity and all the players are proud to play for Ireland. They are all in pain now after missing the other night. This is a big disappointment as the players are great. ”
The loss of Seamus Coleman, Darag Lenihan and Harry Arter is a huge need for a squad that has already suffered. They will return to Dublin on Friday at 5.30am. Kenny agreed that he would be welcomed for another 24 hours before playing again.
He said it was unnecessary to stress the importance of the game to his team. Or the positives from the game in Slovakia could easily be ignored in the wake of the final disappointment of their Euro 2020 aspirations.
“I don’t think I should. Going to the toes in our last two away games, they controlled the games to a great extent, and Slovakia was the last and the last. We need to improve it, complete the opportunities and create even more.
“They saw it with their own eyes. They know that they have a lot of talent on the team and that they are very talented football players and able to go toe to toe with some of the best teams. ”