Robbie Brady is convinced the Republic of Ireland will prosper under new manager Stephen Kenny despite a testing start to his reign.
Burnley midfielder Brady and his team-mates slipped to a 1-0 Nations League defeat to Wales in Cardiff on Sunday as Kenny’s wait for a first win extended to seven games, the last six of which have seen them fail to score.
During that period, Ireland’s hopes of making it to the rescheduled Euro 2020 finals via the play-offs have gone up in smoke, while their presence among the second pot of seeds for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers is now in severe jeopardy.
However, asked if better times lie ahead under Kenny, Brady said: “Yes, definitely. It’s been really positive since he’s come in and he’s put his ideas across to us and the lads have bought into it. It’s been good.
“We’ve been creating chances – obviously the goals haven’t come yet, but if we score a few, it’s a different scenario.
“There are definitely positives to take from it and once everyone is pushing in the right direction, I’m sure there will be good times ahead.”
Kenny, who succeeded Mick McCarthy ahead of the current campaign, took up the reins determined to ease Ireland away from the safety-first pragmatism of recent years and play the more progressive brand of football he instilled during his time in charge of the Under-21s.
That transition would have been challenging enough without the injuries and positive coronavirus tests which have severely deleted his squad in the last two camps, and Ireland head into Wednesday night’s clash with Bulgaria in Dublin desperate for a win which would both secure their place in League B and give them some tangible reward for the work they have done to change their approach.
Brady said: “You know how it is, once you have a few bad results, people start talking and pressure builds. But it’s just one of those things we’ll have to deal with.
“We’ve all have enough games under our belt to deal with it, so yes, please God we get a win on Wednesday and we can push on from there.”
Brady’s performance in Cardiff was one of a series of positives for his international manager with the 28-year-old turning in one of his more accomplished displays for his country in recent years.
The former Manchester United trainee returned from Euro 2016 seemingly with the world at his feet having shone on the big stage as the Republic made it to the last 16 in France, but endured a miserable two-year fight for fitness after suffering a serious knee injury in December 2017.
He has started just 16 games for his club since and that has taken its toll on a man who at one point seemed destined to spearhead a new generation of Irish players.
He said: “I haven’t had a lot of football over the last couple of years, which is not nice at all. It’s been a difficult road, but I feel like I’m in a good place.
“My body is in a great place now at the minute where I’m ticking off games, I’m feeling fit, training every time and I feel great.”