Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Republic manager Trapattoni faces tough decisions in Slovakia

Giovanni Trapattoni

Republic of Ireland Assistant Manager Marco Tardelli is confident the squad have the players to fill the boots of injured striker Kevin Doyle for tomorrow's key Euro 2012 qualifier in Slovakia.

Doyle has returned to Wolves for treatment on a knee injury, meaning Shane Long — who netted the Republic's second goal in their 3-2 defeat by Russia on Friday — or Andy Keogh will get the nod in Zilina.

Republic manager Giovanni Trapattoni was hopeful on Saturday Doyle would be fit but his knee subsequently swelled up, although the injury is not thought to be serious.

Tardelli said: “It's a problem because Kevin Doyle is a very good player for us but we have young players, like Long and like Keogh. They are very good players but without experience — Doyle has experience in the Premier League.

“But I think the young players are ready to play in an important match. Against Russia, Long came on, he played well and scored a goal.”

Much has been made of the Republic's tactics in Friday's defeat, with the hosts relying largely on the long ball while Russia dominated midfield, launching wave after wave of attacks.

Trapattoni's side came back into the match in the final 20 minutes after Doyle was replaced by midfielder Keith Fahey, but Tardelli dismissed suggestions they could start with captain Robbie Keane as a lone striker.

“No, I don't think so,” he said. “Maybe it's possible to play a young player (as a lone striker) but tomorrow Giovanni will decide.”

Defender Richard Dunne was particularly critical of the Republic's performance against Russia, calling on his team-mates to be braver and have belief in their ability to compete with the best sides.

Midfielders Glenn Whelan and Paul Green had a particularly tough game, with the Stoke man describing Russia as the best opponents he has faced on the international stage. Whelan, though, is hoping the chastening experience will prove to be of benefit in Slovakia.

He said: “Me and Paul tried to work really hard without really getting into the game. But these situations are going to pop up many a time and now, come Tuesday, if Slovakia play five in the middle, we know we're going to have to change something.”

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