independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Trapattoni takes a leap of faith with Greek clash

Italian gambles on young guns to inject new energy into Ireland cause

GIOVANNI Trapattoni has placed his faith in youth in an attempt to restore confidence in his team ahead of the final international of a turbulent year.

The Ireland manager has selected a crowd-pleasing XI for tonight's Aviva Stadium meeting with Greece, with defender Ciaran Clark, wingers James McClean and Robbie Brady, and in-form striker Shane Long given an opportunity to impress. He will also introduce the not-so-youthful Wes Hoolahan for the second half.

After surviving the axe following last month's dramatic double header with Germany and the Faroe Islands, the manager is conscious that a poor result this evening will bring the issue of his future back to the top of the agenda.

"That is the life of the manager," said the 73-year-old. "Criticism is criticism. We know the job that we have done in the last two or three years in terms of discovering players but, okay, maybe there are diverse opinions. That is no problem. All the work I need to do is watch Greece many times and prepare the players that can give us new energy for the future."

The FAI are expecting a low turnout for the clash with the 2004 European Champions. They envisage an attendance in the region of 20,000 – less than half the number that attended last month's record home defeat at the hands of Germany.

While both Trapattoni and his skipper John O'Shea feel that the subsequent competitive win over the Faroes proved that all is well, the Italian recognises that a bright showing from the emerging talent will lift spirits. He added that a good result is important for both world ranking and morale purposes.

"We look for the victory," he said in the course of an animated pre-match press conference.

"And we look for the young players to give us fresh energy. Robbie (Brady) can give us creativity. McClean can show us that he can become an important player for us by paying attention 100pc."

Long is rewarded for recent performances at West Brom, while Aston Villa defender Clark auditions at centre-half. His performance will be of particular interest with concerns lingering over the well-being of Richard Dunne, who has yet to kick a ball for the Birmingham club this season due to injury.

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