Bilic wary of miserly Ireland

SLAVEN Bilic believes that Croatia will struggle to create a chance against Ireland in Poznan on June 10 and he doesn't expect Giovanni Trapattoni's players to worry about niceties like possession football, writes PAUL HYLAND.

"They are very dangerous although they are rarely in contact with the ball. If I had to choose their best player, I would vote for Robbie Keane," said Bilic.

"He always knows where there is some empty space and where he should be. He is very smart and an excellent player in general. He is a leader."

While Bilic clearly doesn't expect passages of free flowing football during the game, he is also certain that Ireland's last line of defence, Shay Given, presents a formidable obstacle to his team.

"There is only a one per cent chance to get one on one on their goalkeeper. Against them you simply can not make more than one chance," claimed Bilic.

'Gunners test ideal' says Long

IRISH international Shane Long is hoping to fire West Brom to victory over Arsenal this weekend as the perfect preparation for Euro 2012, writes CORMAC BYRNE.

Long is West Brom's second highest scorer with seven league goals in his first campaign at the Hawthorns. "I'm back in the starting XI now, and I'm going to try and see the season out on a bit of a high going into the Euros," he said ahead of Sunday's clash with Arsenal.

"We owe it to the head coach and ourselves to finish the season on a high. We've worked hard all season to get into the position we're in and we need to keep looking up and pick up points at every opportunity."

Long has backed Roy Hodgson to be a major success with England during his tenure. "We always knew it was going to be difficult to keep him when the England job came up for grabs and there's no one more deserving than him to get it," he added.