Preston North End Irish pair Alan Browne and Sean Maguire ready for Sofia test
Preston duo Alan Browne and Sean Maguire will aim to see international action over the coming days with the Republic of Ireland.
They are in Sofia for the Nations League clash with Bulgaria tonight, with the Irish then facing Finland in Dublin on Sunday.
The games are part of the build-up to the Euros play-off against Slovakia later in the autumn.
Browne, who captained PNE in their Carabao Cup win over Mansfield last weekend, was named in the initial squad for the games.
It was a last-minute call for Maguire though, who got his chance when Troy Parrott pulled out through injury.
These will be the first games in charge of the Irish for Stephen Kenny, someone who was briefly Maguire’s manager in his time at Dundalk.
Kenny admits he has not had time to reflect upon the latest landmark in his career as he prepares to send the Republic into battle for the first time.
The former Under-21s boss has replaced Mick McCarthy in charge of the senior side since Ireland’s last game, a 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifier draw with Denmark, and it is he who will attempt to guide them to the finals in next month’s play-off against Slovakia.
Kenny’s appointment prompted raised eyebrows in some quarters with the 48-year-old former Longford Town, Bohemians, Derry City, Dunfermline, Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk manager having worked largely in the League of Ireland before his elevation to the international set-up.
Asked if the Bulgaria game was the biggest of his career so far, Kenny said: “If I took time and reflected on that, thought about it in that way, there is no doubt that it is.
“But I haven’t had that period of introspection. I have been focused on the game itself and that’s how I view it.
“We are just focusing on the game itself, how we are going to play, the challenge of playing in an empty stadium.
“But I am not looking at it from my own point of view.
“I don’t have time for that, we just have to get ready to try and prepare the team and try to perform well.”
Kenny has signalled his intention to play a more progressive brand of football than that which has characterised Ireland’s style of play and accepts that might increase expectation.