MARC WILSON believes that his Ireland team-mate Shane Long will not be perturbed by the missed chances which contributed to the first defeat of the Martin O'Neill era last night.
Just as Giovanni Trapattoni suffered his first loss as Ireland manager in a home friendly against a side from the former Eastern Bloc (Poland at Croke Park in 2008), O'Neill lost his unbeaten record early on in his reign as Serbia recovered a 1-0 deficit to deservedly win 2-1 in front of 37,595 fans last night.
Nantes forward Filip Djordjevic scored his fourth goal in nine games for Serbia to win the game.
Long took his own tally of international goals to 11 when he opened the scoring on eight minutes, but the Hull City man could even have had a hat-trick only to see his chances – the best two set up by Wes Hoolahan – stay out of the net. Some strikers find themselves haunted by the goals they miss instead of being celebrated for the ones they score, but Stoke City man Wilson says he's not worried about Long's missed efforts against Serbia.
"Longy is not the kind of lad to get down over things like that, I know the way he thinks and he will now just focus on the next game and try to score in that one," Wilson told the Herald.
"That's what you do as a striker, I know how they think after playing against them all these years and trying to mark them. I don't see last night as a case of Shane missing a couple of chances, we play as a team, we win or lose as a team, you can't win a game on your own and it's up to the whole team to do what's needed to win a match.
"Shane is a top-class striker, at Premier League level and international level and it won't prey on his mind at all that he missed one or two.
"He will just get back to what he does best with his club and we will all come back here again with Ireland in May and move on."
As a fellow defender, Wilson says he sympathises with Serbia captain Branislav Ivanovic for the error which gifted Long his goal.
"It was a mistake from Ivanovic for our goal and I know from playing against Chelsea in the league that he doesn't make too many mistakes," said Wilson.
"It was disappointing overall. We had done well in the first half, but a lot of our players have played a lot of games this season and I think that showed, especially in the second half as we tired as the game went on.
"We created some good chances in the game overall, especially in the first half, we scored one goal and had another disallowed. We had enough chances to win the game and maybe we should have killed the game off, but fair play to Serbia, they are a good side," added Wilson.
"They were very good in the second half as we tired and they managed to get the win in the end.
"I saw a lot of positives in the game, we created a lot of chances over the 90 minutes, something we had not been doing. The first half was really good, but in the second half, all of those games for our clubs in the Premier League and the Championship caught up with us."
Wilson is one of only four players to have started all three games under O'Neill (Stephen Ward, James McCarthy and Aiden McGeady are the others favoured by the new boss).
Wilson has started in central defence alongside John O'Shea, Sean St Ledger and, most recently, Richard Keogh, but despite successive clean sheets before last night's loss, no obvious central defensive pairing has yet emerged. Wilson can play in midfield and initially came into the Ireland squad as a left back and he could be shunted around the team in the friendly games between now and September as boss O'Neill tinkers and tries things. But after such a slow start to his Ireland career – Wilson is the same age as Simon Cox but the Nottingham Forest man has almost twice as many caps – he's not fussed where he plays, as long as he plays.
"I am happy doing a job for the team, wherever the manager picks me," he said. "Qualifying for the Euros in France is all that matters. I think that game last night will be a big help to us in qualifying as we will meet good teams like Serbia along the way."