Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Trapattoni backs spirit over flair

Giovanni Trapattoni is pleased with the attitude and balance of his Ireland side

Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni is convinced his team's strong spirit makes up for their lack of individual flair.

Trapattoni is backing his side to deliver as he sends them into a crucial World Cup qualifier in Sweden tonight. Despite only being the fourth game of the Group C campaign, defeat in freezing Stockholm would leave the Irish facing an uphill struggle to catch Germany and Sweden at the top of the standings.

Trapattoni said: "We are not great individual players like (Lionel) Messi or, with Sweden, (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic. But we are a good team with good balance, good attitude."

He added: "We have no creative (Cristiano) Ronaldo or (Lionel) Messi, or other stars, but we are a good team. I am confident for this.

"Every day when I see the team in training I am happy for my side. We play quick and with confidence."

Trapattoni's major team selection decision has seen him opt for the solidity of Leeds midfielder Paul Green - despite a lack of popularity with fans and pundits - in the centre alongside Glenn Whelan.

Wigan's James McCarthy misses out but Trapattoni feels Green's presence will offer the best balance as he implores full-backs Seamus Coleman and Marc Wilson, as well as wingers Robbie Brady and James McClean, to attack.

Trapattoni, who compared Green to Gennaro Gattuso and Nobby Stiles, said: "We have to think about the balance. I can also change after I see how the game develops."

Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark will partner John O'Shea in central defence despite the return of Sean St Ledger to the squad after injury.

Millwall goalkeeper David Forde will make his competitive debut while Shane Long will start up front alongside captain and record goalscorer Robbie Keane, whose role will be slightly withdrawn.