Stephen Kenny, the new Republic of Ireland U21 manager and the special guest of RISSC (London) at our Charity Quiz event this coming Friday evening, is set to announce his first expanded training squad on Thursday for a two day gathering at the FAI NTC in Abbotstown in early February. The gathering is also set to incorporate a training match against the Republic of Ireland Amateur side managed by Gerry Davis. Stephen will also confirm the make-up of his back-up coaching team.
On Saturday afternoon, beleaguered Aston Villa and their Irish trio of Conor Hourihane, Glenn Whelan and Scott Hogan play host to Championship bottom side Ipswich Town who include Alan Judge and Will Keane in their squad. Promotion hopefuls Norwich City and Sheffield United meet at Carrow Road with the visiting quartet of John Egan, Jack O’Connell, Enda Stevens and David McGoldrick all expected to start. Martin O’Neill and his Nottingham Forest charges, who include Daryl Murphy, await the City Ground visit of Wigan Athletic and Anthony Pilkington. The Blackburn Rovers duo of Darragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams are in the squad for the Ewood Park visit of Hull City while James McClean and Stoke City await the arrival of Alan Browne and Sean Maguire who visit the Bet 365 Stadium with Preston North End.
The FA Cup fourth round springs into action on Friday evening with Bristol City and the in-form Callum O’Dowda welcoming fellow Championship side Bolton Wanderers to Ashton Gate. First up on Saturday afternoon will be Accrington Stanley of the First Division who will face Derby County and Richard Keogh at 12.30pm in the Crown Ground. Shane Duffy and his Brighton & Hove Albion colleagues await the visit of high flying Championship side West Bromwich Albion for whom Wes Hoolihan may start. Long time injury absentee Stephen Ward may start for Burnley who make the short journey to face Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium. Robbie Brady and Kevin Long may also see some game time while Jeff Hendrick may be rested. Ronan Curtis and Portsmouth play host to QPR for whom Ryan Manning is in line to start. Ciaran Clark may also get a run-out for Newcastle United who play host to Watford while Matt Doherty may return to the starting eleven for Wolverhampton Wanderers who journey to Shrewsbury Town. Inconsistency surrounds both Millwall and Everton who clash at the New Den where Aiden O’Brien and Shaun Williams await the visit of Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy.
Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City kicked-off the Saturday afternoon fare in the Premier League when they faced each other in Molineaux at 12.30pm. Matt Doherty was relegated to the home bench but was introduced on seventy three minutes of an invigorating contest which went the way of the hosts who scored an added time winner for a four three success. Declan Rice started for West Ham United who went down to a two nil defeat by AFC Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium while Shane Duffy lined out at Old Trafford with Brighton & Hove Albion where in-form Manchester United continued their revival with a two one victory. Ciaran Clark was an unused substitute for Newcastle United who defeated visitors Cardiff City by three goals to nil at St James Park. Shane Long, who faced a battle to be fit, was introduced from the substitute bench for Southampton who defeated visitors Everton and Seamus Coleman by two goals to one at St Mary’s Stadium. Stephen Ward who has recovered from his long term injury together with Robbie Brady did not make the Burnley matchday squad for the trip to Watford. Jeff Hendrick started with Kevin Long an unused substitute as the sides played out a scoreless draw.
The Championship marathon took another step on it’s arduous journey to the Premier riches this Saturday afternoon. Stuttering Aston Villa, with Conor Hourihane in their starting eleven, were held to a two all, draw by visitors Hull City at Villa Park while Blackburn Rovers had Darragh Lenihan in their starting eleven for their two nil victory over visiting basement side Ipswich Town who included new signings Alan Judge and Will Keane in their starting eleven. Derby County captain Richard Keogh continued in defence for the two one defeat of visitors Reading for whom long time injury absentee Paul McShane has returned to training. Darren Randolph and his Middlesbrough colleagues were held to a one all draw by visitors Millwall for whom Shaun Williams started and Aiden O’Brien was a very late substitute at the Riverside Stadium. Callum O’Dowda was again prominent for Bristol City who scored the only goal at the City Ground to defeat their hosts Nottingham Forest and hand new manager Martin O’Neill and his coaching assistants Steve Guppy and Seamus McDonagh a disappointing start to their tenure. Ryan Manning remained on the QPR bench as they suffered a four one Loftus Road defeat by visitors Preston North End who included Alan Browne, who scored, and Sean Maguire in their starting eleven. Keiren Westwood recovered from injury and started for Sheffield Wednesday who overcame visitors Wigan Athletic and their new signing Anthony Pilkington with the only goal at Hillsborough. James McClean was a second half substitute for stuttering Stoke City who shocked current leaders Leeds United with a two one success at the Bet365 Stadium. The Sheffield United quartet of John Egan, Jack O’Connell, Enda Stevens and David McGoldrick all started the late kick-off at Swansea City but were disappointed with a one nil defeat.
League One leaders Portsmouth included Ronan Curtis in their starting eleven for their two one Kassam Stadium defeat by hosts Oxford United, while Josh Cullen started for Charlton Athletic who defeated their visitors Accrington Stanley with the only goal at the Valley.
The FAI has today announced two International friendlies to be played this Autumn. We will face Bulgaria in the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday the 10th September, five days after the home European Championship qualifier against Switzerland and we then meet New Zealand, for the first ever time, in the Aviva Stadium on Thursday the 14th November, four days before we take on Denmark in the European Championship, again in the Aviva Stadium.
The one remaining FA Cup third round replay took place at St Mary’s Stadium this Wednesday evening between Southampton of the Premier League and Championship side Derby County. The sides shared four goals at Pride Park in the first contest, with Richard Keogh and Shane Long in direct opposition as they were again this evening, and the result was also reprised after extra-time with the ‘Rams’ again recovering a two goal deficit. The contest was decided in a penalty shoot-out which went the way of the visitors Derby County, for whom skipper Richard Keogh scored the fifth and decisive penalty. Despite one glaring miss, Shane Long had a fine game leading the line until injury forced his withdrawal on seventy three minutes.