Giovanni Trapattoni is relieved Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov will not have the chance to dent the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup dreams.
The 28-year-old Manchester United striker is out of Saturday’s Group Eight qualifier, in which unbeaten Ireland will attempt to secure a fourth win in five attempts, with an ankle injury.
Trapattoni knows opposite number Stanimir Stoilov still has other dangerous players at his disposal, but is happy one of his potential match-winners is not available for the match at Croke Park.
The Italian said: "Players like that can get into the game in a split-second and turn it completely.
"For me, it is better they are out because they have the possibility to create.
"Berbatov is a very, very important player, but in my experience, you cannot afford to just think about one player.
"Bulgaria are a strong team and they have other strong players. We cannot think it is an easy game because they are missing Berbatov."
The Republic have collected 10 points to date by completing a double over Georgia, beating Cyprus in Dublin and claiming a hard-fought 0-0 draw in Montenegro.
That has left Italy top of the group only on goal difference, and Marcelo Lippi’s side face a tough trip to Montenegro at the weekend before entertaining the Irish in Bari next Wednesday in a game which could have a major say in who finishes at the top of the table.
Trapattoni said: "These two games are very, very important games. These games will really test our psychological and mental strength as well."