“I did not speak to Jurgen Klopp but the medical teams were in constant contact”

Stephen Kenny INSISTS has not been asked for a one-on-one conversation with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp to settle the issue regarding Kawimhen Kelleher’s ongoing absence due to injury.

The Reds boss expressed his frustration with the Ireland camp after the June international window, with the Anfield boss saying Keeler had adjusted a thigh injury against Ukraine before leaving for his summer break.

The 23-year-old has returned to pre-season training with his club and has struggled with a recurring problem, leading to Klopp’s swipe at the FA’s handling of the matter.

Kenny admitted this last month ‘He was caught off guard’ Through German revelations but no dialogue took place between the managers, with the medical departments instead exchanging information.

Keeler is not included in Kenya’s 24-man squad for upcoming Nations League matches with Scotland and Armenia, but the Ireland coach says he will be fit sooner rather than later.

Caoimhin Kelleher in action in June.

Source: Tom Maher / INPHO

“No, I haven’t spoken to Jurgen Klopp but the medical teams have been in constant contact, so that was clear,” Kenny said.

“With Caoimhin, if Caoimhin modified something in the match against Ukraine, it wasn’t clear from his performance. He did very well and did everything really well. Honestly I wasn’t aware of his injury at the time.

“He trained with Liverpool when he got back to the pre-season and got injured, but for sure it was something we were not aware of. The good thing is that he is making good progress and will be back very soon, and he should be back for the next camp for sure.”

Swansea City’s Michael Obafemi has been included, although coach Russell Martin omitted him from the tournament’s last two games due to the fallout from Burnley’s failed bid to sign him on the day of the transfer deadline.

I’ve talked to Michael and like everything else, there are two or three sides to every story. Michael definitely wants to play football, he wants to play with Swansea.

“Obviously he was removed from the last two squads after the bidding deadline etc. It’s not ideal, we want our players to play and come in good shape.

“It’s just one of those things, I’m sure he’ll be back playing soon. We’re happy to have him in the team because we’ve seen him a few times this season and he’s played well, he was at the level that finished last season.”

Michael Obafemi

Michael Obafemi.

Source: Ryan Byrne / INPHO

Three players called up by Kenny are veteran Robbie Brady, defender Andrew Aumobamidel and winger Calum O’Oda, with the Ireland coach hailing their struggles through injury battles.

“It’s been 18 months out of Robbie’s squad. He’s one of our best players for sure, all things being equal. But things haven’t been equal for him because his body has let him down so much, which was very unfortunate.

“It’s just good to see him, he’s just absolutely worthy. We admire him as a player and the talent he has but he’s playing because his performance with Preston was really different than the left-back. He offers you different things, it’s a very creative pass from this position, he has the quality of a cross, He sees things very early and has played well in that position so far this season.

I’ve passed a few times to see Preston clearly and have enjoyed his performance.”

Umubamidele re-established himself with Norwich at the top of the tournament and Kenny added: “For Andrew, it’s different because when you’re a young player and you haven’t had an injury, it’s new, it’s uncharted territory.

“It’s a stress fracture, or a potential stress fracture in your back. It creates uncertainty. He’s had a long time after coming onto the scene, had a really exceptional start to his international career and only played seven club games when we played with him, and he didn’t disappoint.

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“We knew what we were getting into and he really excelled.”

Andrew Omobamidele applauding the fans after the match

Andrew Omopamidil.

Source: Laszlo Geczo / INPHO

In the meantime, O’Dowda owns a new club in Cardiff City and also appears to have reinvented himself as someone who can work in various positions, with Kenny insisting he can become a key figure when next year’s European Championship qualifiers begin.

“He is talented, left-footed and a direct dribbler. But he has not been able to get a string of matches with his former club Bristol City. He has had a severe hamstring injury and it has recurred.

It’s been a really tough period for Callum so he’s been through a lot because he had some false dawns where he seemed to be coming back and then back again. Sometimes you get that with explosive players, so it’s been a lot of time.

“He moved to Cardiff and started the season well. He played in four different positions – on the right wing, on the left wing, as a left-back and a full-back.

“He is a versatile player and I hope he will be an important person, an important player for us in qualifying for the European Championship between March and November. I hope he will be involved.”

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