Matt Doherty has earned the praise of Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny after he was forced to play the majority of the encounter at centre-half during their 0-0 draw with Wales on Sunday.
It has been a difficult few days for Doherty and the Ireland squad as they suffered penalty shootout heartbreak against Slovakia last Thursday, which cost them a place in next summer’s Euros.
The Tottenham defender missed the decisive penalty which knocked Kenny’s side out, and he and his teammates had to pick themselves up for the Nations League clash against Wales just a few days later.
The players learned before the game that one of their teammates had tested positive for COVID-19, as well as four other players who were in close contact with the player in question, out of the clash (Sky Sports).
This meant that Ireland went into the game with an extremely depleted side, and when Burnley’s Kevin Long was forced to come off midway into the first-half after an accidental elbow from Wales striker Kieffer Moore, it meant that Kenny had little choice but to ask Doherty to slot in at centre-back.
However, the home side defender resolutely to come away with a 0-0 draw and Kenny admitted that he was extremely impressed with the Tottenham defender’s showing.
Speaking to BBC Sport, the Ireland boss said: “Matt Doherty had to go in there at centre-back and I said to him he’d have to be careful that he didn’t make that position his own. He did very well in that position.
“All of the players showed a great attitude and passed the ball quite well. We just couldn’t get that goal.”
Spurs Web Opinion
After playing 120 minutes against Slovakia, as well as the full ninety against Wales, if Doherty starts again against Finland on Wednesday (which is looking likely), he will come back to Hotspur Way both physically and mentally exhausted. I expect Aurier to get the nod to start against West Ham on Sunday, particularly after the performance he put in against Man Utd.