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irish are confident going to germany

IRELAND were involved the last time that the German national team suffered the ignominy of playing two consecutive international games without scoring a goal.

And, on the back of their shock 2-0 loss away to Poland on Saturday night, there is fresh hope in the Ireland camp that the current squad can not only frustrate but also punish the Germans here in the Veltins Arena, home ground of Schalke, tomorrow night.

German mood was quite low when Joachim Loew's squad arrive back on German soil from Poland early on Sunday, that sense of gloom becoming worse with a glance through their history books. In a batch of October Euro qualifiers back in 2007, the German national side played two games in a row without scoring a goal, a 0-0 draw with Ireland in Croke Park and a 3-0 home loss to the Czech Republic.

They mattered little in the overall scheme of things as that draw in Dublin sealed a place at the Euro 2008 finals for Germany (the first nation to qualify for that tournament) so the subsequent loss to the Czechs was a dead rubber.

But drawing a blank at home to Ireland tomorrow, and failure to find the net for the second game in a row, would be a major blow to Germany's hopes. Of course they are still expected to win the group, like they always do, but there is a sense in the Ireland camp that more frustration could bear down on the Germans in Gelsenkirchen.

"These things happen, plenty of times, I remember playing for Wolves and we ended Manchester United's record run by beating them," says Kevin Doyle when asked if Ireland can create problems for the Germans.

"It's not that we go into games being massively fearful, everyone realises that upsets happen, we could draw or win the game, you never know. We are well aware of that and it's not like we have a negative attitude."

It may be odd that a 3-0 loss is seen as a case of seeds of hope for Ireland but for David Forde, Ireland's display away to the Germans under caretaker boss Noel King last year does put some optimism into his mind, as Germany could have won by a far bigger margin on the night only for Forde, who put in a man of the match display.

"I've very fond memories of the last time so hopefully we can get over there this time and get a result. I'd take a team performance over anything else and get a result," says Forde.


"We were missing some big players last time don't forget that. We're at full strength at the moment bar Séamus Coleman and James McCarthy, which is a big loss. I think we missed John O'Shea over there last time and he's a big figure for us," added Forde.

Doyle appears baffled for a second when asked to pick out the main threat from Germany.

"They are all good, all strong on the ball, they are world champions, no one stands out as they all stand out. They have a fantastic league and have plenty of players playing abroad but their own league is as strong, they are missing five or six players but that doesn't really matter as they have other players to come in," says the Wexford man, still bedding in at his new club Crystal Palace.

"We have to try and be organised, have a plan and a structure. They have just won the World Cup so they're a good team, we know that. They beat us in the last campaign but we have a bit more confidence about us now, and we play a different system now, mainly with one striker and an extra midfielder behind him."

In Ireland's clashes with Germany in those qualifiers for Euro 2008 Doyle was the main man up front, starting both games against Germany, but now he has moved down the ladder somewhat.

Should Martin O'Neill drop Robbie Keane for the game in Gelsnenkirchen, Shane Long is most likely to stand in while Daryl Murphy has also forced his way into the manager's thoughts recently with his games for club and country, but Doyle could also provide an option.

After some tough times - relegation with Wolves, loan spells away from the club - Doyle is starting afresh with Palace and while his time with the Eagles has yet to take flight, he's staying patient.

"I am enjoying it, we have got some good results and I have come on a few times but as everyone does, we are playing one up front and we have three or four of is competing for one place, we have a run of games coming up so I hope to get an opportunity, I would love to be playing, I have gone there to play but I knew the situation when I signed and I knew I would have to be patient," Doyle says.

"I played in the Oman game and got on against Gibraltar on Saturday so that was nice, though how I didn't score against Gibraltar, I don't know, as I had a few chances."

While Doyle rues his misses, Forde drew confidence from the scoreline against Gibraltar.

I's always nice to keep a clean sheet. It's huge on whatever level. I'm absolutely delighted. I thought we played some great stuff. It gives us confidence and a big lift going into tomorrow," Forde said.