Belfast Telegraph

Republic boss King considers new Keane role

By Daniel McDonnell

Noel King is prepared to field Robbie Keane as a lone striker in Friday's World Cup qualifier with Germany.

The caretaker Republic of Ireland boss is set to change from Giovanni Trapattoni's rigid 4-4-2 to a formation with three central midfield players and one central striker.

Keane, the Republic of Ireland's captain and record goalscorer, has rarely ploughed a lone furrow up front.

Trapattoni selected him there in the Euro 2012 defeat to Spain where he was an isolated figure for much of the game.

The Republic lost 6-1 to Germany in Dublin this time last year and King is wary that the shape of the team must be right to prevent a repeat.

Questions have been asked about whether the LA Galaxy star is suited to that brief, but King – who spoke with Keane on the phone after he was brought in on a temporary basis following Trapattoni's departure last month – feels he is capable of taking on the difficult assignment.

"He can certainly do it. Anthony Stokes can do it as well and there are other players in the group who could possibly do it," said King.

"We're trying to get the balance right against the Germans and that's what we are working on."

The deployment of Marc Wilson is another major issue facing the stand-in boss.

Wilson established himself as Trapattoni's first-choice left-back in the final year of the Italian's tenure, but he is now operating as a central midfielder for Stoke City in the Premier League.

He was used in both roles in training yesterday and could also come into the mix for a centre-half berth next to Ciaran Clark.

Joey O'Brien, who sat out yesterday's proceedings along with Anthony Pilkington and Kevin Doyle, would be vying with Stephen Kelly for a start at left-back if Wilson is moved into the engine room.

"These are the issues," said King, "I've seen him (Wilson) play midfield for his club.

"That's great that there is versatility in the group, like Joey, who didn't train today."

King will leave it late to confirm his team and will examine other options in training this morning.

Belfast Telegraph

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