GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI has told his Republic of Ireland side to ignore the negative headlines in the wake of their 3-2 defeat to Russia last week as they seek to make amends against Slovakia tonight.
The Boys in Green face the Slovaks tonight in Zilina in a crucial Euro 2012 qualifier, where victory would once again put Ireland in command of their own destiny – while defeat would likely see them slip three points behind both Slovakia and Russia (who are away in Macedonia).
After last Friday’s disappointing display in the Aviva Stadium – during which the Irish stuck rigidly to the Route One, long ball methodology favoured by the conservative Italian coach, until the game was beyond rescue – both players and manager have found themselves under significant pressure to perform.
Il Trap has confirmed that he will stick with his favoured 4-4-2 formation, which had served him adequately until Friday’s Russian mauling, though he has insisted – in spite of Richard Dunne’s admission that Ireland required a Plan B, and Glenn Whelan’s unspoken assertion that the team are told to play a certain way – that he does not “forbid creativity”.
“The system is not closed to creativity, absolutely not,” he said yesterday. “The system is order and we have shown many times that we are a solid team with a very good disposition.” He added:
Even when we are missing Damien Duff it doesn’t change our solid block. I don’t forbid them to play their game I give them confidence about what they can do and they know we play like this.
Perhaps to prove his point, Trapattoni is likely to make just one change to the side that lost on Friday – Kevin Doyle, who did not make the trip after his knee swelled up post-match, will be replaced by Shane Long.
Liam Lawrence, who had been doubtful with a thigh injury, trained with the squad last night – though RTÉ reports that once last night’s training had treated to a private session, Keith Fahey had played in the ‘first eleven’.
Either way, the two replacements are seen as direct swaps with no major tactical adjustments foreseen.