JOHN O'SHEA believes that the new batch of Irish defenders are ready to tackle the demands of international football.
O'Shea (84 caps) and Paul McShane (28 caps) are the most experienced members of the back four picked to face Poland tonight as left back Greg Cunningham and centre half Ciaran Clark are rookies, with only six senior appearances between them, while Giovanni Trapattoni also plans to give some game time to Alex Pearce and uncapped Richard Keogh at the back.
A tough task then for Ireland, who have failed to keep a clean sheet in the last five games, against a tasty-looking Polish side – led by the free-scoring Robert Lewandowski – which has scored eight times in the last two matches. Poland of course were responsible for the first defeat of the Trapattoni era in 2008 and are also one of the teams (along with Germany, Russia, Uruguay, Spain and Croatia) to score three or more goals against Trapattoni's Ireland, so tonight's game should be treated with caution, though O'Shea says he feels that the defenders are up to the task.
"The new lads have settled in straight away and there's a good atmosphere in the group, and as a back four we will deal with things together, Clarkey will help Greg out," says O'Shea. "As a unit we have to work together and that will happen tonight. Ciaran Clark is a very wise head on young shoulders.
"I'm sure Clarkey is glad of the break away (from Villa) to clear his head a little bit but from the type of player I know he is, he's very strong mentally. Villa have a young squad and if they survive this season they will get great belief from it."