The Black Country; one of the birth places of the Industrial Revolution, renowned for its coal mines, iron foundries, brickworks and steel mills, and acquiring of the name as a result of the soot that constantly covered that not-so-scenic stretch in the English midlands.

The not-so glamourous life of an international football manager, as Stephen Kenny informed the assembled press in Dublin on Tuesday that "West Brom is a place I spend a lot of time in".

A trio of Irish stars, Jayson Molumby, Dara O'Shea and Callum Robinson, ply their trade for the Baggies, and as a result, the Ireland manager tends to spend quite a lot of time at the Hawthorns monitoring their form and that of any Irish eligible player who may be in opposition on any given Championship afternoon or evening.

Relationships with the players, no doubt, strengthened on such occasions, however, it has been a rendez-vous of a different kind that has led to the arrival of the latest member of the extended Ireland squad and coaching staff.

QPR coach John Eustace was named as Anthony Barry’s replacement on the Ireland backroom staff ahead of this week’s double-header against Belgium and Lithuania, and with no obvious connection with Kenny, there was a natural curiosity regarding his appointment.

"John is someone I have bumped into going to matches," explained Kenny. "I’ve met him a lot at West Brom, because he lives in Birmingham and West Brom is a place I spend a lot of time in, because we’ve got Jayson Molumby, Dara O’Shea and Callum Robinson playing there, and various other players from visiting teams.

"We would often meet there and have cups of tea and chats over the last year. I’ve seen him coaching at QPR and he has done well, so it just seemed, when I was working out who to bring in to replace Anthony, that he’d be a good candidate."

Eustace played for Coventry, Stoke, Watford and Derby throughout a 20-year career in English football, and the 42-year-old has been assistant manager at QPR for the past four years, and Kenny said that his dealing with him combined with his reputation as a coach led to the offer to join his staff.

Kenny said that Eustace is someone who will challenge him, while he had extensively analysed his coaching style, adding that his experience and the bond that they have built should lead to a good working relationship at international level.

"My own relationship would be the main reason, and his reputation as a good coach," said Kenny.

"I’ve watched videos of all his sessions. I’ve watched them all at length and studied his coaching style.

"He’s a student of the game, he thinks about the game, we did quite a few video sessions together before he came onboard and we interacted in relation to how they train, what his ideas are.

"He’s thought-provoking and he challenges some concepts, so he’s interesting and I feel that he’s a really good person as well, and he’ll bring a humility to the group. I think he’ll do a good job."

John Eustace at training on Monday

Looking ahead to Saturday’s game against Belgium, Kenny revealed that Darragh Lenihan had been sent back to his club to get treatment on a groin injury, and while no replacements have been called up, the manager said that QPR’s Jimmy Dunne was on standby.

And when the issue of Belgium travelling with an understrength side to Dublin was raised, Kenny stressed that his own side are probably more affected by players who are missing from the selected Ireland squad.

"I think that the players we're missing probably have a greater effect than the players they're missing," said Kenny.

"We're missing Adam Idah, Andrew Omobamidele, Enda Stevens who are frontline players for us. Callum O'Dowda is obviously missing.

"All of their players are from top teams in the European leagues. Like, Lukaku isn't fit, so they have a choice Batshuayi, Origi or Benteke as their first number 9, and only one of them will play. So those players will come in and they've already played in major tournaments.

"OK, Kevin de Bruyne is a world-class player and is great to watch, it would be great for the Irish public to see him because he is a real special talent."

Looking beyond the March international window, Ireland are scheduled to begin their UEFA Nations League campaign with four games played over a ten-day period in June, however, with Ukraine in the same group, there is a question mark over at least two of those fixtures.

And the manager offered his support for the war-torn country and expressed his wish that Ukraine will be able to play their World Cup qualifier against Scotland, another side who are part of Ireland’s Nations League group.

"The picture was that we'd have four games in 10 days in June in the Nations League, so obviously we're to play Ukraine, Armenia, Scotland and Ukraine again.

"That was originally the idea. That would have been a big ask for the squad and we would have needed more than 11 players, we would need our full squad to participate in that kind of schedule, with the arduous travel.

"We're not sure now what the situation is now in June, whether we play Armenia twice as has been suggested, the game with Scotland and so forth.

"Obviously, we hope that Ukraine can go ahead with their World Cup qualifier against Scotland, we don't know this of course and it looks unlikely now at the moment, to be honest.

"Our thoughts our with the Ukrainians at this time because they're a quality team, they got to the quarters of the European Championships."