Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has revealed that Swansea City striker Michael Obafemi’s hamstring troubles were the main reason for him not to be included in Ireland’s squad.
The explosive marksman, who has netted six goals in his last nine games in the Championship, has been in electric form since the turn of the year after a slow start to life in SA1.
Arriving from Southampton in August, the 21-year-old received public criticism from Swansea City head coach Russell Martin in November about the forward’s professionalism, but Obafemi now looks sharper and fitter than ever.
Forming a formidable trio along side top-scorer Joel Piroe and the ever influential Jamie Paterson, braces against Coventry City and Peterborough United have shown Obafemi’s unique qualities.
After announcing his 25-man squad for upcoming games against Belgium and Lithuania, Kenny was asked about Obafemi’s omission suggesting the striker wasn’t available for selection due to his hamstring issues.
“He would have been considered for selection if he was available,” Kenny admitted.
“He wasn’t available for selection. The true of it is, Michael’s never played three games in a row before this year for his club. The reason for that is the persistent hamstring troubles he’s had throughout his career, he’s such an explosive player.
“He’s found a manager who believes in him in Russell Martin, Micheal’s managed to stat fit and has looked a real threat in recent weeks. He got two very good goals against Coventry City and backed that up again the other night (against Peterborough United).”
On fire in SA1…
With Swansea City topping the Championship’s possession stats for the season so far, the Irishman has had to remain patient for opportunities at times this season.
Blackpool aside, the Swans have looked increasingly threatening in recent weeks with chances aplenty for their potent forwards.
His goals against Coventry City highlighted the different dimension he gives Martin’s side, stretching defences by running in behind which lead to both his goals against the Sky Blues. With Paterson and Piroe looking to come towards the ball into little pockets, Obafemi offers the Swans a different dynamic in the final-third.
After spurning two good opportunities before his brace against Peterborough United on Wednesday, the striker showed excellent mentality by not letting his early misses affect his confidence.
Up next for the Swans is Birmingham City, a side who are currently looking vulnerable defensively due to a number of injuries and suspensions.