Republic of Ireland recall Aaron Connolly and Jeff Hendrick for World Cup Qualifiers

Stephen Kenny has named a 25-man squad for September's World Cup Qualifiers against Portugal, Azerbaijan and Serbia; Republic of Ireland winless in their first two matches; Aaron Connolly and Jeff Hendrick included; Nathan Collins earns first senior call-up

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Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny said some players have opted not to receive Covid-19 vaccinations but respects their individual wishes

Brighton striker Aaron Connolly and Newcastle midfielder Jeff Hendrick are back in the Republic of Ireland squad for next month's World Cup Qualifiers against Portugal, Azerbaijan and Serbia.

The pair missed June's friendlies against Andorra and Hungary, but have been included in a 25-man party by manager Stephen Kenny, who has handed a first senior call-up to Burnley defender Nathan Collins.

However, West Brom striker Callum Robinson is out of the triple-header after testing positive for Covid-19,while West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph also misses out after contracting the virus.

Enda Stevens, Callum O'Dowda, Jason Knight and Chiedozie Ogbene have all been ruled out by injury.

PA - Aaron Connolly
Image: Aaron Connolly has been included in the latest Republic of Ireland squad

Ireland are yet to open their Group A account after defeats to Serbia and Luxembourg in their opening two fixtures in March.

They face Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo at the Estadio Algarve in Faro on September 1 live on Sky Sports, before hosting Azerbaijan at the Aviva Stadium on September 4 and Serbia three days later.

PA - Jeff Hendrick
Image: Newcastle's Jeff Hendrick has also been handed a recall

Live World Cup Qualifier

Full squad

Goalkeepers: Caoimhin Kelleher (Liverpool), Gavin Bazunu (Portsmouth), Mark Travers (Bournemouth)

Also See:

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Matt Doherty (Tottenham), Shane Duffy (Brighton), John Egan (Sheffield United), Dara O'Shea (West Brom), Ryan Manning (Swansea), James McClean (Wigan), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich), Nathan Collins (Burnley)

Midfielders: Josh Cullen (Anderlecht), Jeff Hendrick (Newcastle), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Harry Arter (Nottingham Forest), Jamie McGrath (St Mirren), Jayson Molumby (Brighton)

Forwards: Aaron Connolly (Brighton), James Collins (Cardiff), Daryl Horgan (Wycombe), Adam Idah (Norwich), Troy Parrott (MK Dons), Shane Long (Southampton), Ronan Curtis (Portsmouth).

Kenny: Some players decided not to get vaccinated

Stephen Kenny is having to try to persuade some of his players to have Covid-19 vaccinations despite the disruption the pandemic has caused them.

Ireland's hopes of making it to the delayed Euro 2020 were dealt a blow when strikers Aaron Connolly and Adam Idah were ruled out of their play-off semi-final in Slovakia in October last year as close contacts of another passenger on the flight to Bratislava who had tested positive, while Kenny later lost eight players from the camp in total.

However, ahead of next month's World Cup Qualifiers, Kenny revealed the vaccination picture is mixed.

Live World Cup Qualifier

"A number of players have had vaccines and some haven't," he said. "Some have had one.

"In England, the AstraZeneca vaccine has quite a long period between first and second, so a couple of players have been caught with the first one, and some players have decided not to get it, so that's where it is."

UK-based players would no longer have to isolate as close contacts of a third party who had tested positive if they had been double-jabbed, and Kenny admitted that was not lost on him and his medical staff.

Asked if he was pushing for all his players to opt for vaccination as a result, he said: "Yes, and that has happened with a player, for example, who had one vaccine and hadn't had the second and wouldn't have had to isolate.

"But that's the situation we're in. Ideally we'd want everyone vaccinated, but the players are men as individuals and they have the right to make their own decisions, and we have to respect that.

"In an ideal world, we would prefer to have everyone vaccinated and that wouldn't be an issue, but you have to respect the individual wishes."

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