Doyle hails competition for places as Irish debutants have a ball

Aidan Fitzmaurice

KEVIN DOYLE believes that a new crop of Ireland players have given Giovanni Trapattoni some real food for thought ahead of the upcoming bout of World Cup qualifiers next month.

Trapattoni handed out debuts to four players against Oman last night with two of the newcomers (Robbie Brady and Alex Pearce) delivering goals while David Meyler and Darren Randolph also made an impression.

Lads who are still fringe players at international level despite their club form (Marc Wilson, Seamus Coleman and Joey O'Brien) also came away from Craven Cottage with some brownie points.

It's expected that the established names who missed the Oman game for various reasons, such as Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews, Richard Dunne, Stephen Ward and John O'Shea, will all return to the squad and indeed the team when Germany come to town next month.

Big friendly wins don't usually count for much when it comes to Ireland as we're not so hot at following things up -- after a brilliant win over Sweden in the early days of Steve Staunton's reign, the team lost the next four games.

And under Trapattoni, in the aftermath of a great friendly victory over Italy in Leige the team didn't score in the next three matches.

"All of the new boys were impressive. Robbie Brady scored on his debut, so did Alex Pearce. It's all about breeding confidence and those boys have it," Doyle told the Herald. "In the early days of your international career it's all about building confidence, coming in and getting to know people, know the way we play, settling in. And if they are in the squad when the next games come around in October it won't be a bother to them.

"They won't be nervous about their first cap or first goal because Robbie and Alex already have their first international goal. They all integrated pretty quickly.

"David Meyler was great too, he was willing to get stuck in," added Doyle, who feels that there is now real pressure for places, with senior pros like Whelan and Andrews watching at home on TV.

"It's the same for any of us, you need to stay on your toes," says Doyle. "It was the case for me last week, I didn't start against Kazakhstan so I was desperate to do well when I got the chance.

"There is a long way to go before the next game against Germany, anything can happen in four weeks, players can get injured or lose their form but we now know that these lads can come in and do well," said the Wolves man.

"It was a big honour to captain the side in a win. That's twice I have been captain now and we won both games. Maybe I'm a lucky omen.

"I think our lads enjoyed the game, it was stress-free, a lot of changes in the side but a lot of players did well."

The win over Oman did seem to wash away some of the fatigue and negativity that had surrounded the team, but Doyle says that the win should be seen in a wider context, pointing out that all of our near neighbours across the water, and Northern Ireland, failed to win last night. "We have been to the last big tournament at the Euros and we only missed out on the one before that in a playoff. Other countries would bite you hand off if they were offered a similar situation," he says.

"We have started the group with a win -- as we did the last time. I feel that people should be careful what they wish for sometimes, because we always step up to the plate and do reasonably well, given the amount of players we have playing in the top division and where our own league at home isn't as strong as the ones in other countries."