Former Republic of Ireland and Liverpool forward Michael Robinson has died aged 61 following a battle with skin cancer.

Robinson also represented Preston North End, Manchester City, Brighton and Hove Albion and Queens Park Rangers before moving to Osasuna for the final two and a half years of his playing career.

That paved the way for a move into punditry and broadcasting in Spain, where Robinson established himself as an authoritative and respected voice on the country's national sport.

He won 24 caps for Ireland, while a sole campaign at Anfield in 1983-84 saw him play a part in Division One, European Cup and League Cup glory.

"With tremendous sadness we inform you of Michael's death," a tweet posted to Robinson's official Twitter account on Tuesday read.

"It leaves us with a great emptiness, but also countless memories, full of the same love that you have shown him.

"We will be eternally grateful to you for making this man SO HAPPY, he never walked alone."

Robinson's standing within the Spanish football fraternity was quickly underlined as Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos offered "my love to your family and friends", while Barcelona paid tribute to "a person who loved football and who knew how to explain it with knowledge and ingenuity".

The play-offs to determine the final spots for the European Championship are likely to take place in October and November, according to Football Association of Ireland (FAI) CEO Gary Owens.

The coronavirus pandemic led to the postponement of Euro 2020 for 12 months, with the play-off fixtures that were scheduled for March having also been called off.

With no confirmed date for when international football will return, it remains to be seen when those matches will be held.

The Republic of Ireland are among the teams waiting for official confirmation, with Slovakia their opponents and either Bosnia-Herzegovina or neighbours Northern Ireland awaiting the victors.

UEFA held an update with its member nations via teleconference on Tuesday, with FAI chief Owens offering an update on when the play-off games will go ahead after that meeting.

Owens told FAI TV: "There has been a slight move on that [play-off dates]. Originally, we thought it may well be November but it now looks like the semi-final is the preferred option in October.

"They don't want to have the semi-final and the final of the play-offs in the one month. It looks like the Nations League matches will be in September and October, with the semi-final play-off in October and the final play-off in November."

Earlier on Tuesday, UEFA announced it is to produce new guidelines outlining qualification criteria for its competitions from domestic leagues that cannot be completed.

However, the governing body once again recommended competitions should be finished if possible.

Stephen Kenny has replaced Mick McCarthy as Republic of Ireland manager, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) announced on Saturday.

The former Dundalk boss was primed to take the helm after Euro 2020, but the postponement of that tournament to next year amid the coronavirus pandemic has forced the FAI's hand.

Ireland face Slovakia in the play-offs for the continental competition, but that tie is also subject to an indefinite delay.

McCarthy, whose contract was due to expire on July 31, has therefore stepped aside early, with Under-21s boss Kenny officially taking on the role earlier than his previous start date of August 1.

"The Football Association of Ireland announces that Mick McCarthy is to be succeeded as national team manager by Stephen Kenny with immediate effect," read a statement from the governing body.

"The handover has been agreed with both men in light of the delay to the European Championship play-offs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Mick McCarthy's contract was due to expire on July 31 after the UEFA Euro 2020 finals, with Stephen initially scheduled to step up from his Under-21 team role on August 1.

"This move allows Stephen Kenny time to plan for the European Championship play-off semi-final against Slovakia later in the year."

Sevilla have completed the signing of highly rated youngster Ryan Johansson from Bayern Munich.

Johansson, 18, has signed a six-and-a-half-year contract with the Spanish side and is expected to feature for their second team – Sevilla Atletico – and the senior side before the end of the season.

A technically gifted midfielder comfortable in the middle and on the right flank, Johansson had been at Bayern since 2017 and was on the fringes of the first-team squad, having been involved in each of their past two pre-season camps.

But with the path to first-team football at Bayern blocked by a significant amount of talent, Johansson opted to make the move to LaLiga.

"It is a dream come true. I think Sevilla is the perfect club for me at this point in my career and I hope to play for the first team very soon," he said.

"It was a very easy decision for me to come here, where I can improve and help the team in the future. I think I can progress at first with the reserves and adapt myself to the club so I can make the first team, hopefully very soon."

Johansson has represented Luxembourg at youth level, although he is said to be attempting to switch his allegiance to play for the Republic of Ireland, the nation of his England-born mother's parents.

Scotland have been drawn against Israel in the Euro 2020 play-off semi-finals.

Aiming to reach their first major finals in 22 years, Steve Clarke's side will face Israel in a one-legged tie at Hampden Park on March 26.

The winner of that match will go on to face either Norway or Serbia in the Path C final five days later.

Scotland beat Israel 3-2 at Hampden Park last November en route to topping their Nations League group and Clarke is after a repeat result in four months' time.

"The draw is what it is," he told Sky Sports News. "I never get too carried away about who you are going to play. 

"It would been nice to repeat the home win, but the match will come with its own level of pressure, which we will have to embrace.

"Being at home is very important for us. I'm sure Hampden will be full, with the Tartan Army on the march. It's a great stadium when it's full, so if we start fast we can get them all behind us."

Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland are on course to meet in the Path B final, having been drawn away to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovakia respectively in the semis.

In Path A, Romania travel to Iceland and Bulgaria host Hungary, while Belarus are at Georgia and North Macedonia face Kosovo in Path D.

The four play-off winners will join the 20 teams that have already qualified for the finals, which will take place in 12 different cities next year.

Thomas Delaney has suffered torn ligaments in his right ankle and will be out of action until January.

Borussia Dortmund confirmed the nature of the 28-year-old's injury on Wednesday after he returned from international duty.

Midfielder Delaney was substituted 13 minutes into Denmark's crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Republic of Ireland on Monday, unable to assist his country as they secured a 1-1 draw to qualify for the finals.

Delaney has played six times in the Bundesliga this season, having appeared 30 times last term following his move from Werder Bremen.

Mick McCarthy remains confident his Republic of Ireland squad can book a place at Euro 2020 despite missing out on automatic qualification.

Ireland were held to a 1-1 draw in Monday's must-win qualifier against Denmark at the Aviva Stadium to finish third in Group D, three points behind their opponents.

Matt Doherty headed home five minutes from time to cancel out Martin Braithwaite's 73rd-minute opener, but McCarthy's men must settle for a play-off spot.

A one-legged semi-final and final will be played in March and McCarthy believes his side are in with a shot, provided they replicate their performance against Denmark.

"We can beat anyone in the play-offs," he told Sky Sports. 

"The players will go back to their clubs and we don't have a game until March. I'll be getting round them and reminding them it has been a good campaign and that we can play like that, so why not play like that in March."

Ireland lost only one of their eight qualifiers - a 2-0 reverse to Switzerland last month - and McCarthy was full of praise for his players after the draw with the Danes in Dublin.

"I am immensely proud of them," he said. "They pushed Denmark right to the limit. If my players and my team leave everything on the pitch, I will take the result as it comes so I will have to take this.

"You just need that bit of luck. We had opportunities but I am not going to criticise the lads because they've been brilliant. We lost one game out of eight so I'm very proud of them."

Denmark are now unbeaten in 17 qualifying matches since October 2016 and can look forward to next year's tournament, having failed to qualify last time around.

Age Hareide's men managed just two attempts on target against Ireland, however, and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel admitted his side were "terrible".

"It was dramatic enough," he told Sky Sports. "There wasn't a lot of quality from both sides - it was a cagey and tight affair.

"We were terrible. We didn't hit anything we tried to today and we had to rely on our grit and determination. We needed it today as we were under a lot of pressure."

Denmark have faced Ireland six times since 2017 and have not lost any of those meetings, but Schmeichel feels the hosts are improving.

"This is the best Ireland have been against us," Schmeichel added. "We had to ride our luck at times, but you need that when you're fighting for qualification."

Denmark booked a place at the Euro 2020 finals at Republic of Ireland's expense following a 1-1 draw in Monday's crucial qualifier in Dublin.

Three sides were battling for two automatic qualification spots heading into the final round of Group D fixtures, with Switzerland - 6-1 winners in Gibraltar - going on to claim top spot.

Ireland required victory to have a shot at finishing above their opponents in second and they set up a grandstand finale when Matt Doherty cancelled out Martin Braithwaite's opener late on.

However, there was to be no dramatic winner for Mick McCarthy's men in the closing minutes, meaning they must settle for a place in next year's play-offs.

Mick McCarthy admitted Robbie Brady is still lacking match fitness after watching the midfielder lead the Republic of Ireland to victory over New Zealand.

Brady set up Ireland's equaliser in their 3-1 friendly win on Thursday when his corner was headed in by Derrick Williams.

But captain-for-the-night Brady left manager McCarthy seemingly unconvinced about his readiness for the biggest battles.

And that may mean he has to settle for a substitute role in Monday's crunch Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark.

"I think Robbie needs more game time. I don't think he's fully match sharp to be playing and he needs games," McCarthy told RTE. "Yes he can play because he played tonight and yes he's played for Burnley.

"But is he really match-hardened, like 10, 12, 15 games? He’s not and I think he felt that tonight. But he's delighted with being the captain and he's done OK."

McCarthy saw flaws in Ireland's performance, saying that in the early stages "our intensity wasn't that great" but stressing the display was "far better" In the second half.

He was delighted with man of the match Sean Maguire, who scored a brilliant first international goal to cap an enterprising all-round performance.

"He was excellent," said McCarthy, "and he was in training as well this week. He got a great goal – it was a terrific finish."

Sean Maguire staked a claim to be involved in the Republic of Ireland's biggest game for two years by scoring and starring in the friendly win over New Zealand.

Preston North End forward Maguire struck the hosts' second in a 3-1 victory against the All Whites in Dublin, with his first international goal a 20-yard sizzler into the top right corner.

Maguire could have had more goals and created a string of chances for others on Thursday, earning man-of-the-match honours as Ireland came from behind to post a persuasive win.

Ireland's team that faces Denmark in a crucial Euro 2020 qualifier on Monday, however, is sure to show significant changes, given manager Mick McCarthy chose not to risk several key players against New Zealand.

Maguire may still have a role to play, and should he be involved then he knows what another goal would mean to the country, with a victory required to reach next year's finals.

"That would be the perfect scenario – [it doesn't] matter who scores on Monday, as long as we get those three points," Maguire said. "It'd be a special Euros in the summer, potentially having two games in Dublin. All focus is now on Monday night."

The 25-year-old told RTE it was high time he got off the mark for his country and "better late than never" that he finally netted.

"It's just over two years since I made my debut here against Moldova and I suppose it's been a long time coming," Maguire said.

"It was probably the hardest of four or five chances I got tonight, but thankfully I got it out of my feet and struck the ball into the bar corner. I was happy to get my first goal and I think it was important tonight to put on a good performance like we did, heading into the game on Monday.

"Obviously it's a massive game, probably the biggest in a couple of years."

Dressing-room advice from Ireland's record goalscorer Robbie Keane persuaded Maguire it could be his night, and the proof came with the strike early in the second half.

"I felt I was getting into the right areas," Maguire said. "Robbie said to me at half-time, 'Keep making those runs and keep getting into those areas'.

"You dream of these days, especially scoring for your country and I'm absolutely delighted.

"I've been playing off the left a lot this season with Preston and when the gaffer told me before the game I'd be playing off the left I fancied myself to get in position to score a goal."

Sean Maguire pulled the strings as the Republic of Ireland beat New Zealand 3-1 in their Dublin friendly.

The Preston North End forward scored the goal of the game and was the home team's most lively performer, with Blackburn Rovers' Derrick Williams and Sheffield United's Callum Robinson also netting for Mick McCarthy's side.

For all three scorers, the goals were their first at international level.

Youngster Callum McCowatt had given New Zealand a lead on the half-hour mark and he caught the eye more than Burnley's Chris Wood, before the All Whites ran out of steam.

Thursday's clash was a warm-up, ostensibly, for the Republic before a crucial Euro 2020 qualifier against Denmark, but it was a fringe team selected by McCarthy.

The home side had the first clear chance but left-back Williams could only produce a shot-cum-clearance from 12 yards after Alan Browne's cross.

New Zealand – appearing after a 525-day absence from the senior international stage – broke through when the hosts' backline was picked apart and McCowatt slid home a fine cross from the left by Liberato Cacace.

It made for a promising start to the reign of new head coach Danny Hay, the former Leeds United and New Zealand defender who in August succeeded Fritz Schmid in the post.

However, Ireland ultimately overpowered their visitors. Williams surpassed his earlier wayward effort on the stroke of half-time, heading in Robbie Brady's corner for an equaliser.

New Zealand captain Winston Reid was substituted at half-time, the West Ham defender having made his first senior appearance since March 2018 after a knee injury.

Ireland went in front after 52 minutes when Maguire cracked a 20-yard strike into the top-right corner, and he created a string of chances for others.

Robinson grabbed the Republic's third in the 75th minute, meeting Lee O'Connor's fine cross from the right with a stooping header from eight yards.

 

What does it mean?

Not even McCarthy was seriously looking for a statement performance to send out a warning to Denmark. The XI that faces the Danes will be pretty much unrecognisable, as McCarthy has already acknowledged. This game afforded the kids a chance, seeing who might become contenders for a tournament Ireland might not even reach. For New Zealand, a new dawn under Hay means dreams of reaching the Qatar 2022 World Cup finals. The more games they play, the better. Just what have they been doing for the last year and a half?

Maguire stakes a claim

On a chilly night in Dublin, Maguire was a livewire on the right side of Ireland's front three. He may be the big beneficiary of this friendly, a player that could come in and make things happen for the Irish back at their home stadium on Monday.

Voting with their feet

The Irish public made it clear what they thought of this game. The stands were half empty, being generous, for what was a glorified training game. It will be a different story on Monday.

What's next?

Beat Denmark next week and the Republic will be through to the Euro 2020 finals. New Zealand will not face another near 18-month wait for a fixture, with their next game coming up on Sunday against Lithuania.

Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy says a "cup final" against Denmark awaits his players after defeat to Switzerland damaged their hopes of qualifying for Euro 2020.

Haris Seferovic opened the scoring before a Shane Duffy own goal secured the Swiss a 2-0 win over their 10-man opponents on Tuesday, with the visitors having Seamus Coleman sent off.

McCarthy's team remain top in Group D with Denmark level with them on points. Switzerland are a point further back but both they and the Danes have a game in hand before the final round of fixtures on November 18. 

Denmark finish up with a trip to Dublin, where they ended Ireland's 2018 World Cup hopes in the play-offs.

"We've got to play Denmark now at home," said McCarthy. "I would've taken that at the start and I'll take it now. We've still got a chance to qualify automatically."

He added: "We've got ourselves a cup final against Denmark next month and if you have handed me that before the group began, I'd have taken it."

A philosophical McCarthy had no complaints over the outcome as his team were beaten for the first time in the group, capping a disappointing few days following a 0-0 draw against Georgia.

"We were beaten by the better team, much the better team actually," he added,

"Certainly in the first half we didn't play particularly well. Whatever system we play it does not excuse our wayward passing and the stuff that we did.

"I changed it midway through the second half and that settled things down a bit. Second half we played much better. I think it was a performance that we can be proud of, certainly when the players went down to ten men. Second half, not the first half."

Midfielder Glenn Whelan admitted they gave their hosts "too much respect" in the first half in Geneva.

"We stood off them a little bit but, in the second half, we had a go and tried to get back in the game," he added.

"I think, for us, we need to do that all of the time. We show teams too much respect and then get sloppy on the ball. If we are on the front foot we will get the fans behind us and give anyone a go."

Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic praised his team's response after defeat to Denmark in their previous outing but insisted they still have much to do despite having the easiest run-in.

"It was a good performance. We had to show a reaction after losing to Denmark and that's what we did," he said.

"The result doesn't mean a lot in the group – we still need to get results in our next two games. If we get the points we need against Georgia and Gibraltar, we can turn our attentions to Euro 2020."

Ten-man Republic of Ireland missed the chance to secure Euro 2020 qualification as goals in each half earned Switzerland a 2-0 victory in Geneva.

Haris Seferovic struck after 16 minutes to throw Group D wide open, with the Swiss moving within one point of Mick McCarthy's team, who remain top, and Denmark, with the latter pair having played a game less.

Vladimir Petkovic's side also saw a Ricardo Rodríguez penalty superbly tipped onto the post by Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph with 13 minutes remaining after Seamus Coleman saw red following a handball inside the penalty area.

And Switzerland made the points certain in added time courtesy of Edimilson Fernandes on what was a night to forget for the Irish.

 

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