Shane Duffy and Aaron Connolly in thick of World Cup motion
Aaron Connolly has been pressured to reach his full potential by his international boss.
The Albion striker is still waiting for a first A national goal for the Republic of Ireland as their winless streak in competitive battle now spans 15 games.
They needed a late Shane Duffy header to secure a 1-1 draw at home against Azerbaijan on Saturday.
Connolly had been dropped at halftime, had started wide on the left and at times looked quite lively.
Republic boss Stephen Kenny seems to see that Connolly is most useful to his young team on this side.
It’s a role he played in the U21.
But to some extent, Kenny reiterated Albion boss Graham Potter’s comments recently suggesting Connolly can produce more.
He alluded to “other issues” when assessing where the 21-year-old is in his progress.
But he praised Connolly’s work in the 2-1 defeat in Portugal last week.
Kenney said, “I think Aaron Connolly is only about 70% of his potential right now.
“There is so much more of him.
“He did a brilliant job for us the other day (in Portugal).
“Aaron punched holes in that left channel all night and was an outlet for us all night. He carried the ball with such speed.
“But probably because he hasn’t played regularly and other issues, I think he can be so much better.
“He has a lot of potential. We have to take care of him and try to get him to do that. ”
Kenny answered suggestions that Connolly goes down too easily.
He said, “Aaron has a low center of gravity and the way he dribbles fast will always invite tackles.
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“Because he’s so fast, he’ll inevitably get his fair share of free kicks and penalties.”
Against Azerbaijan, Connolly played on the left of an offensive trio that included Adam Idah and Troy Parrott.
It remains to be seen how the Irish will prepare for their visit to Serbia tomorrow in Dublin.
Overaged Albion U23 midfielder Gary Dicker was among those watching from the stands at Aviva as the Republic battled for their first point of the season.
They made it up close in the 87th minute with Duffy’s header.
It was the Albioner’s fifth goal for this country.
Four of them came in 1-1 draws and the last three were all after set pieces with late header equalization.
There wasn’t much to celebrate this time.
The center-back chose to post a photo of himself looking frustrated telling his followers on social media, “The picture sums up last night’s outcome.
“Disappointed that we didn’t win the game that weighs on us as players. What a feeling to play in front of our home fans, we missed you guys!
“I’m happy to score another goal for my country. On to Tuesday evening, now let’s go. ”
Jayson Molumby completed a trio of Albion players in the XI that started against Azerbaijan.
The midfielder on loan to West Brom was close in the first half but was replaced with a yellow card in the second.