Sport Soccer

Saturday 18 November 2017

Captain O'Shea urges young guns to light up Lansdowne

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

JOHN O'SHEA has urged Ireland's young guns to find their voice and, finally, give the Dublin crowd something to shout about.

The Waterford man admits that the team's home record since the move to the renovated Lansdowne Road has been disappointing, paling in comparison with the quality of the results and performances in away qualifiers.

Friday's fine display against Sweden has built the optimism levels ahead of tomorrow's showdown with Austria, and O'Shea hopes that a new-look side can grow in confidence and handle the expectation that comes with playing in front of your own.

He believes that they also need to show more incision in the final third.

"I'd love to tell you why, fingers crossed we sort it out on Tuesday night," said O'Shea with reference to the underwhelming home record. "It's down to ourselves and if we can transfer the performances away from home into the Aviva games, we will be in a very strong position.

"I suppose we have to be a bit more clinical. Our final pass on Friday... We got ourselves into a couple of great positions, whether it was a pass over-hit or a player not picked out, that's something we'll have to do better."

A host of relative newcomers acquitted themselves well in Stockholm, including O'Shea's central defensive partner Ciaran Clark.

However, the Waterford man, who will take the armband tomorrow with Robbie Keane ruled out, has stressed that the fresh faces just need to make their presence felt vocally.

"That's what all the lads have to improve upon, the communication factor," he said.

"It helps so much, especially if we're going with the 4-4-2/4-4-1-1, you really have to be shutting across and getting lads covering in and different things so the communication factor is going to grow game by game and you'll see the improvement there too."

The centre-half feels that Austria will come into this game thinking they are the 'forgotten side' of Group C and says that their approach may have an influence in Ireland's strategy.

While the green shirts enjoyed more time on the ball on Friday, he acknowledged that Sweden's formation facilitated that.

"Will they sit back or have a go at us? I think that will dictate a little," said O'Shea, "But we have to worry about ourselves initially and get the crowd going.

"The Swedes played 4-4-2 which sort of made it like-for-like and you get more possession than you do when teams are playing 4-5-1.

"That said, Celtic proved to Barcelona that possession does not always count for everything, and it's the same in the Premier League for teams like Arsenal and Swansea."

O'Shea, who shone in Stockholm, was buoyed by the performance of club colleague James McClean who showed glimpses of the form that made him hot property 12 months ago.

He cited the player's confident outing as an example that the group have not been distracted by other issues in the build-up to the match such as the furore surrounding Kevin Doyle's original exclusion and the confusing comments from Trapattoni about Robbie Brady.

"Those are natural things that happen in football in this present day – the speculation, the rumours and what do I say, a lot of the bull – pardon the phrase – that is part and parcel of what goes on.

"You have got to be big and bold enough to just get on with it. The manager showed the other night that he made the changes when he had to in the belief to get the right result.

"And although it did not work out in a win, it did work out with a very favourable result as long as we get the win against Austria."

Irish Independent

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