Feargal Brennan ponders the scenario of Stephen Kenny taking charge for Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off.

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The Covid 19 outbreak, upheaval within the FAI and the perpetual delays over the Euro 2020 (2021) play offs have placed the Boys in Green on increasingly uncertain footing.

With UEFA and national federations prioritising club football, the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga are reminding the powers that be of their financial power.

The drive to get domestic football back has dominated the conversation in recent weeks, with the small matter of Ireland’s vital clash with Slovakia firmly taking a back seat.

The postponement of the tournament until 2021 has given UEFA some breathing space, with the majority of European nations seeing the positives of another year of preparation, rather than it being shoehorned at the end of a delayed season.

But for the Irish national side the immediate future remains something of a lottery.

Mick McCarthy’s future will be job No.1 for the new faces at Abbotstown, with the former centre back’s future catapulted into limbo.

Niall Quinn has asked for patience in deciding what happens with McCarthy in the coming months.

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The terms of McCarthy’s contract, and the Stephen Kenny succession plan was always likely to cause problems down the road, although no hypothetical scenario could have imagined the current global situation. 

The wording of McCarthy’s deal sees him leave in August, with a €1.2M golden handshake, and Kenny taking the baton.

The proviso of McCarthy’s contract includes a place a Euro 2020, but with the 12-month suspension, the path is less clear.

If McCarthy remains, he is likely to push the notion of his deal including a ‘qualification clause’, which would see him in charge for the play-off/s at least.

However, a win against Slovakia – when the game is finally rearranged – and a potential victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina /Northern Ireland opens an almighty can of worms.

The logic of the current set up aimed to find the most applicable solution to the radical succession plan, with ‘Mick’s’ side looking to qualify for the Euros, and the tournament itself, before ‘Kenny’s’ side tackled the UEFA Nations League and World Cup 2022 qualification. 

The former Millwall stopper is pragmatic about his future, as he has been throughout his second stint in Dublin, and if something is going to give, it is likely to be him.

Mick’s public persona is built around the straight-talking everyman, who has been around the block enough times to know the score.

And that sense of knowing when to leave the party could be decisive in this situation. 

Mick is aware of an awkward overlap if he remains beyond the summer – with a new play-off date being mooted for September – meaning he is likely to step aside.

That would leave Kenny charged with refocusing minds and navigating through the play-offs alongside the early days of the Nations League.

However, Kenny at the helm for the Slovakia game will raise the same doubts about him as emerged in 2018.

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For every fan excited by the positivity of the former Dundalk boss and his expected promotion of youth, there exists a cautious battle-hardened supporter, wary of rocking the boat. 

But the ‘risk’ would seem the only way to go, The alternative sees Mick winning or losing the play-offs, and then being replaced days later by Kenny, for the Nations League.

The context of the Covid 19 ripple through football, could provide a leveller for Kenny for the Slovakia game.

Neither side head into the game with a form book to hand, with players likely to be trapped between the end of one season and the start of another. 

This will ease the pressure, allowing Kenny to utilise McCarthy’s existing blueprint with some early input of his own.

McCarthy has kept it steady during qualification, with 19 players used in eight games, and six starting every game.

Kenny is unlikely to rip up the game plan, with the core of Darren Randolph, Seamus Coleman, Shane Duffy, John Egan, Enda Stevens, Conor Hourihane and Jeff Hendrick all in line to face Pavel Hapal’s side.

However, Kenny’s attacking approach will not just decide Ireland’s progress, but how his early days are judged.

The Dubliner is astute enough to know the scope for early experimentation is slim, and only an option in certain areas.

The calls for a mass blooding of his U21 stars will be managed, via a mixed approach which maintains his proactive principles, without excessive gambling with Ireland’s qualification hopes. 

The Matt Doherty debacle should be solved instantly, as the in-form Wolves man looks tailormade for Kenny’s system.

That leaves a few holes to fill, with James McCarthy’s return the desired option, but Kenny could settle for Alan Browne, with Glenn Whelan unlikely to reappear in an Ireland jersey.

He also stayed loyal to a core of players as U21 coach, with Conor Coventry, Dara O’Shea and Jayson Molumby ever present. 

Molumby is likely to make the cut for Slovakia, with Adam Idah and Michael Obafemi also given an early chance by Kenny.

The spotlight remains on Troy Parrott, with the Spurs man generating more attention than all of Kenny’s other youngsters combined.

But his club situation is unlikely to have changed by the time Kenny moves into Mick’s office, and despite netting four goals in U21 Euro qualifying, he still looks short of a senior shout.

However, if he manages to edge into the reckoning in the coming months, Kenny has a decision to make.

A firm call on Ireland’s hottest young prospect, in whichever direction, could be the early test Kenny needs to kick his tenure into gear.