THE SQUAD HAS been selected, the suits have been measured and the dodgy theme tune has been recorded.
Now all that’s left for Giovanni Trappatoni and the Irish squad is to get through this weekend’s friendly with Bosnia before heading, first to Italy for a training camp and then on to Budapest for a final friendly against Hungary on June 4.
Obviously, Trapattoni’s main concern revolves around injuries. With worrying news regarding Shay Given and John O’Shea in recent days, it’s unlikely the Italian will risk any players he considers borderline.
However, this Saturday’s game should not revolve just around avoiding injuries and here are the three things TheScore.ie would like to see in Dublin 4.
1. Plan B
We know that Ireland are good at limiting the damage other teams can inflict on us. If Trap’s reign had a motto, it would probably be ‘whatever happens, lets not lose by too many.’
Given, it’s not a catchy slogan, but it is an accurate one.
However, what happens if Ireland find themselves 3-0 down to Spain in their second group game, having secured a win over Croatia in the tournament opener? Goal difference could be everything and getting back into that kind of game seems unlikely given the dearth of creativity in Ireland’s starting eleven.
This Saturday, it’s important that Ireland show they can go out and put two or three goals past a decent defence (Bosnia are ranked 27 in the world).
The way Ireland score is just as important. Set pieces and counter attacks will be so crucial against Spain and Italy, they need to use this game to brush up on both areas of the game.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s action, Darren O’Dea said he could see no way he would get into an Irish team ahead of a fit Richard Dunne. This lack of ambition is a worrying.
While Trapattoni clearly has his favourites, how else do you explain Whelan and Andrews, all players should believe they are first choice. Anyone who says anything else is playing the wrong sport.
Saturday, therefore, is the ideal opportunity for players like O’Dea, James McClean and Jonathan Walters to stake a claim. It may come to nought but it’s surely better than accepting a role as a water carrier and little more?
Likewise, we’d like to see established players put in a shift too. When you know a player is putting in a shift as if their place depends on it, they become much easier to accept, regardless of any perceived limitations they may have. It’s the Dirk Kuyt factor.
3. A good send off
Ireland have done remarkably well to qualify for Euro 2012. Low attendances have dogged Irish friendlies in recent years but it would be nice to see this group of players get a big send off.
Likewise, the game gives the players an opportunity to put on a spectacle for those who have followed them through the good and bad times over the last decade.
With tickets starting from €20, there’s little excuse not to.