Stephen Kenny is hoping that his side hit the ground running as they open their Nations League campaign against Armenia on Saturday.

Kenny named a 27-strong squad for the four-game schedule and will be heartened by the fact that all have arrived into Dublin fit and ready for the opening game.

In fact, the squad have already taken part in a behind-closed-doors encounter with Jim Crawford's Under-21 side on Sunday with most players playing at least 30 minutes throughout.

A worthwhile exercise according to the manager and one designed to bring back the matchday intensity to many of his players who have been lacking game time in recent weeks.

In the meantime, those players were given a training plan to follow in their own time, while others who have only finished in the last week were later arrivals into camp.

"It was a good work-out," said Kenny, speaking at the post training press conference at Abbotstown on Monday afternoon. "It was two thirty minutes. We made nine changes at half-time. I think it finished 2-1 but the goals weren’t that relevant.

"Some players needed some match fitness. It was to give them a little focus, they would have known a couple of weeks ago they would be playing a game on the second day so it was up to them to be up to speed.

"We didn’t have time to bring people in and get them ready for a training game, we needed them to hit the ground running. That was dependent on them doing work leading into here.

"It was a good work-out, the Under-21s played well. We made a lot of changes because the defenders were late in - Nathan Collins, Seamus Coleman, John Egan - not late in, but in yesterday as they only finished a week ago.

"In the second half of the game we had a lot of forwards in the team and we were unbalanced for sure, but it was a very useful exercise and I’m pleased with it."

Two such forwards were certainly out to impress the manager with new recruit CJ Hamilton and the returning Michael Obafemi looking to put their hand up for selection.

Hamilton has impressed at club level throughout the season, playing for Blackpool, while Obafemi has been one of the standout Irish players in the Championship, scoring 12 goals in 32 appearances at Swansea, which earned him a call up.

"CJ has fitted in terrifically well," said Kenny. "He has a really good attitude, and he did well.

"Michael is a great character and he has fitted in fine."

CJ Hamilton will be looking for his first cap during the June series

The manager confirmed that all 27 were fit and available to play on Saturday in Armenia – aside from Josh Cullen, who is serving a suspension, however, he stressed the importance of the first four days in camp before the match sequence kicks in, combined with extensive travel to and from Armenia and Poland for the Ukraine game.

"We haven’t [any injuries] really," said Kenny. "We had 27 players training today. We have players that have to manage stuff, but nothing that would rule anyone out of the first game at the moment."

"The only real training block is this, these four days," said Kenny when it was suggested that it was akin to utopia to have his entire fully fit squad to work with for two weeks.

"After that it is the [travel and pre-match] preparation in Armenia. And once the game happen, you are training the players that aren’t playing and you’re really [back] into [the next game], whether that be Ukraine, Scotland and back out to Ukraine again.

"So it is not like you will have big numbers training, you won’t, this will be the only time you have high numbers training apart from the day before the game when you’re finetuning your tactical plans for the games itself."

Festy Ebosele and Michael Obafemi arriving at training in Abbotstown

Looking ahead to the four-game international window, Kenny believes that the attitude of the players has been spot on and that they are ready for the tough challenge ahead.

"The attitude of the players has been terrific, they are excited by the games, they realise that we have four tough games and it’s a big challenge getting through the games in close proximity.

"It’ a challenge that hasn’t existed before, having a four-game window for competitive games, that’s new territory for everyone, but we’re not daunted by it, we realise that’s the challenge and it’s one we want to meet."

First up for Ireland is the long-haul flight to Yerevan to face Armenia, which will take place in difficult conditions with late afternoon temperatures expected to reach the high twenties, and while the opening game is deemed the easiest of the four matches with a double header against Ukraine and Scotland at home to follow, the manager is not looking beyond the first fixture.

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"We are not in a position to think like that," said Kenny, when asked would he consider holding players back for the other matches.

"We have to pick what we feel is the right team for Armenia. Armenia is a challenge away from home.

"They’ve beaten Iceland at home and beaten Romania, so they are capable of winning matches.

"They won a group with Georgia and North Macedonia to qualify. We know we will be playing in 28 or 29 degrees, at five o’clock. That is a challenge.

"So we need to make sure that we are ready and we are not thinking of matches in advance of that.

"Armenia is a big challenge for us and one we are looking forward to."

Follow Armenia v Republic of Ireland (Saturday, 2pm) via our live blog on or on the RTÉ News app. Watch live coverage on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player commencing at 1pm