Stephen Kenny has endured a tough year since taking over as Ireland manager, however, the Dubliner is now hoping that the upcoming international seven-day window can "change things" for the national team.

As openings go, it has not been easy for the, relatively, new Ireland manager who took charge of his first game 11 months ago and, results aside, Kenny has had more than just football to contend with.

Squads depleted and pre-match preparations thrown into disarray as a result of the Covid crisis, motivational videos leaked to the English press, staff resignations; Kenny has had to negotiate his way through a lot of distractions off the pitch, while no doubt cursing his luck on it.

A penalty shoot-out in Slovakia went against Ireland and appeared to signal the fortunes of the new regime, resulting in a near-devastating run of 11 games without a win, including a disastrous defeat to Luxembourg to derail qualification hopes for the 2022 World Cup.

That elusive first victory did eventually arrived in Andorra during the end-of-season camp in June, which was followed up by a decent display against Hungary in Budapest.

Ireland now play three World Cup qualifiers inside a week, as they take on Portugal away on Wednesday, followed by home fixtures against Azerbaijan and Serbia.

Kenny's side will still be targeting second place in the group, which would put Ireland on the much-travelled play-off path, however, finishing runners-up to group favourites Portugal or the impressive Serbian side is a tall order considering the start of two defeats from two played.

But the manager is hoping that the tide is turning in his side’s favour, and while he is planning for three tough games, he is expecting his squad to rise to the challenge.

"It is a great game going away to play Portugal," said Kenny, speaking to RTE Sport. "The players should be hugely motivated by that, it is a game that they will always want to play in, and they will want to perform well in it.

"It is a quick turnaround, three World Cup qualifiers in six days, Portugal, Azerbaijan, and Serbia. It is a huge challenge for us, but one that we want to meet head on, we want to have a really good week.

Callum Robinson misses out again as a result of the coronavirus

"There are nine points available. A good week can change things and give a different complexion.

"Admittedly, they are tough games, but we are excited by them, and we are determined to do ourselves justice and put in strong performances over the week."

As the build-up to the three-game international window moved up a gear earlier on Thursday with the squad announcement, there was, however, a sense of history repeating itself as Callum Robinson and Alan Browne have been ruled out of the Portgual game, at least, as a result of the coronavirus.

West Brom forward, Robinson, is self-isolating after contracting Covid, while Preston midfielder Browne is out due to the close contact rule.

But the manager is adamant that he is not letting the pandemic determine the narrative this time around and still believes that he has a very strong squad at his disposal.

"It robbed us of eight players from one camp, but that is the way it is at the moment," said Kenny.

"Alan is a close contact, so he is ruled out of the first game. He also has an injury. We are strongly considering having Alan Browne and Callum Robinson available for the two games in Dublin, we will have to wait and see, it is a possibility.

"We still have a strong squad, and I am excited by the squad. We have experienced defenders who are playing really well, and a lot of exciting young forwards who are making their mark. They still have a lot to prove, of course, but have a lot of talent.

"It’s fantastic; we are playing Portugal away, then playing at the Aviva.

"We capped 13 players making their competitive debut, and they have been in front of nobody, empty seats, so now this is the first time they are all able to be inspired by the crowd.

"When you dream of playing for Ireland, you dream of walking out and playing in front of a crowd, not an empty stadium, and that’s a bit of a surreal thing.

"But they can experience the real thing now, against Azerbaijan and Serbia next week. It is very exciting for them, and they will be determined to do themselves justice."

Gavin Bazunu makes a world class save in Budapest

There is no room for the Darren Randolph in the 25-man squad that was named for the triple-header, however, Kenny is not ruling the experienced West Ham goalkeeper out of future squads.

Kenny said that he picked his goalkeeping trio based on form and while they may be lacking the experience of Bray native Randolph, Kenny emphasised the talent of the three selected.

"Darren is still young in goalkeeping terms," said Kenny. "He has had injuries, and has had Covid recently, but he is back fit now.

"The three goalkeepers have been excellent, in the last game Gavin Bazunu and Caoimhin Kelleher were excellent, so it certainly doesn’t spell the end for Darren Randolph in that regard.

"That’s the good thing about competition. You can say they are inexperienced, but they are talented goalkeepers, we are proud to have them, we believe in them and we have good options."

Kenny is maintaining a strong emphasis on youth throughout the squad, and while the manager accepts that some players are lacking in experience, he feels that everyone named is capable of playing the games, including the difficult away trip to Portugal.

Andrew Omobamidele helped Norwich to a 6-0 win on Tuesday night

"I think all the players in the squad are ready to play, that’s genuinely how I feel," said Kenny.

"I managed to see the Norwich game on Tuesday night in the Carabao Cup where they won 6-0. Andrew [Omobamidele] is a very accomplished footballer. He is a very exciting player, has good attributes. He’s still very young, and they think very highly of him at Norwich.

"[In attack], there is a balance between experienced players like James Collins, Shane Long and Daryl Horgan, and some youthful players like Troy Parrott, Adam Idah and Aarron Connolly. There is a balance and the players are looking forward to it."

And it would appear that this international window just arrived a bit too early for midfielder James McCarthy, who moved from Crystal Palace to Celtic during the summer.

Kenny is keen to get the experienced midfielder involved in his squad set-up, however, he conceded that he would need to wait until the next window to avail of his services.

"I spoke to James and he has not been available for Celtic for the last week. He had an illness. He has only played two 15 minutes, so maybe the October camp is more realistic for James."