Stephen Kenny is not holding his breath in the hope that Leeds striker Patrick Bamford will change his mind and declare for the Republic of Ireland.
The 27-year-old scored 17 Premier League goals last season as the promoted Elland Road club sailed through their first campaign back in the top flight, in the process propelling himself to the fringes of the England squad before ultimately missing out on a place in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the rescheduled Euro 2020 finals.
Bamford was capped by Ireland at under-18 level and has been courted previously, but amid suggestions fitness coach Damien Doyle – who worked with the player during their time together at MK Dons – might be able to persuade him to commit to the green shirt, Kenny appears to have moved on.
He said: “He was very close to being in contention, maybe, for England for the European Championship. It’s not realistic to suggest that at the moment, I would feel.
“I think that was obviously his objective, to go to the European Championship with England.
“There’s no doubt he’s a very good player, a quality centre-forward, but we have to believe in the talent that we have. We have to work to improve it and get better.
“It’s unusual for players to switch nationality – I’m not saying it never happens – so quickly after a situation of just being left out of a tournament. There are not many instances of that. Normally it’s over a long period.”
Golden Boot winner Harry Kane was the only Englishman to score more Premier League goals than Bamford last season, but asked if his disappointment at not being selected despite that achievement might prompt a change of heart, Kenny said: “I really don’t know, I really don’t know.
“He is a good player, but his objective was clearly to play for England, so I have to respect that.”
Kenny will deploy what weapons he does have at his disposal in Thursday night’s friendly against Andorra still awaiting the first win of his reign after 11 games in charge, and midfielder Conor Hourihane is desperate to change a narrative for which he insists he and his team-mates have to take the blame.
Hourihane said: “Hopefully a win comes sooner rather than later. That takes a little bit of the pressure off and people don’t point it in your face all the time.
“But we’ve only got ourselves to blame from that point of view because we should have won games up to now, but that hasn’t been the case.”