|Venue: Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium, Yerevan Date: Saturday June 4th Kicking off: 14:00 CET|
|Cover: Live Text Commentary, Match Coverage & Reaction on the BBC Sport website|
Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has insisted pace alone will not pave the way to Nations League success.
Wingers Festy Ebosele and CJ Hamilton and returnee Michael Obafemi were nominated for the first time.
All three will speed up Kenny’s attack, but he’s in no rush to introduce them right away.
“Pace is an important component, but not the only one,” he said ahead of the Republic’s game against Armenia on Saturday.
Kenny added, “I think it would be naïve to suggest this, bringing in players who haven’t been capped before and just throwing them out and expecting the opposition won’t be able to live with that.”
Udinese-tied Ebosele impressed during Derby’s challenging championship campaign, while Hamilton improved his reputation as Blackpool cemented his place in the same division after being promoted from League One last year.
Of the three, it is perhaps Obafemi, who made his senior debut in Ireland in November 2018 from then-boss Martin O’Neill as an 18-year-old substitute in Denmark, and has had the most impact.
The striker left Premier League side Southampton, where his options were limited, for Championship Swansea last summer and has gradually warmed to the task. In his last 19 games of the season, he scored 11 goals to get Kenny’s attention.
“Speed isn’t everything”
However, West Brom’s Callum Robinson is the man in Republic form at the moment. He has scored six of his seven international goals in his last six games – albeit against lower-ranked Azerbaijan, Qatar and Luxembourg – while Tottenham striker Troy Parrott resigned last season on loan to League One MK Dons, taking his tally to three with a win in last second who defeated Lithuania in March.
Kenny insisted his team is “not fixated on speed” but it’s a good option.
“You have to have the right balance in your team, with creativity, the physical conditions you need and speed,” he added.
“We think it’s an important attribute, but it’s just an attribute.”
Kenny, whose side are also expecting a doubles game against Ukraine when Scotland visits the Aviva on 11 June, has high hopes of winning Group B1 but knows a grueling schedule – they play four games in 10 days – will be his 27th put to the test -man squad.
“We want to give ourselves options in the four games, that’s crucial. When we’re losing someone game to game, we need to make sure our options aren’t limited.
“Some of the other players have done well – it’s not like players come in and come straight into the team.
“We’re in good form and the players have performed well and scored goals in previous internationals and that’s important.”