Stephen Kenny believes that Shane Duffy's move to Celtic has proved most beneficial for the player ahead of Thursday’s Euro 2020 play-off with Slovakia.
Duffy spent a large part of the 2019-20 Premier League season on the bench at Brighton, however, the commanding centre-half secured a loan move north to Scotland ahead of the new campaign, and the Ireland manager feels that it is already paying off.
"I think the good thing for Shane is that he has played a lot of games," said Kenny, speaking at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown on Sunday. "He’s had a game every three or four days, which is good for Shane.
"He has not had that in a long time. That’s a positive."
Duffy, who will likely lead the team in Seamus Coleman's absence in Slovakia, signed for Celtic on 2 September, during the last international window, and since then the Bhoys have remained unbeaten, winning seven straight fixtures to sit one point off the lead in the Scottish Premiership with a game in hand of leaders Rangers.
The Glasgow side have also progressed to the Europa League group stages, following victories over Riga FC and FK Sarajevo.
"They’ve had games in the Europa League and beat Sarajevo, they have qualified for the group stages and he’s been part of that," said Kenny.
"They’ve kept clean sheets and I think the more football he plays the better he will be. Playing regularly is what he needs and that can only be a good thing."
Duffy was one of several players in the Ireland squad who was essentially still in pre-season mode during the last international window, where the manager expressed his concerns about match fitness in the squad.
However, Kenny appears much more content with the shape of his side going into the Slovakia fixture, referencing several players from his midfield department who have been quite active since the double header in September.
"It’s great that players are getting minutes," said Kenny. "James McCarthy is playing at Crystal Palace, Jeff Hendrick at Newcastle and Conor Hourihane at Aston Villa.
"So there have been some plusses."
And the manager said that he has been impressed by another member of the midfield department and one who was not even selected for the games against Bulgaria and Finland, Shamrock Rovers’ play-maker Jack Byrne.
Kenny watched Byrne impress in a recent Europa League game against AC Milan and he said that the Dubliner offered excellent attributes in the advanced midfield role.
"Jack has a lot of different qualities," said Kenny. "We have athletic players who are comfortable playing deeper in midfield. Jack offers an alternative to that.
"He’s a creative player who plays higher in midfield. He has a great range of passing. He has been playing well for a while now and he is certainly an addition to the squad.
"He is tremendous at protecting the ball. He played well [against Milan] and has backed that up with a couple of good performances in recent weeks."
One player who has not featured at club level since the Finland match is attacking midfielder, Callum O’Dowda, who Kenny started on the right side of the attack in Bulgaria and in the home game at the Aviva.
O’Dowda, however, picked up an injury in the Finland defeat and only returned to full training last week.
The manager stressed that O’Dowda is very much part of his plans for the Bratislava trip as he possesses natural fitness and trained fully with his club Bristol City, who are leading the Championship, last week.
"Everyone is in our thinking," said Kenny.
"Callum is a very fit player. He had a groin issue but has a full week’s training and now he will get a few days training with us so he will be a consideration."