Saturday 24 February 2018

Euro 2012 diary

IRISH fans will be listening out for developments in Zilina on Friday, where Slovakia clash with Russia.

If the Slovakians can bounce back from their Armenian humiliation and win, then six points from Ireland's final two games would secure an automatic trip to Poland and Ukraine.

Alas, a draw or a win for Russia effectively books their place, as they host Andorra on the final day. The clash between the top two seeds kicks off an hour and a quarter before events in Andorra, which means that Giovanni Trapattoni could inform the players at half-time if he wanted.

Yet the Irish manager suggested yesterday that he would only tell them if it was an extremely favourable situation for their prospects. In other words, a Slovak win.

On a positive note, key Russian attacker Aleksandr Kerzhakov is out of the game with an injury.

McCarthy tips sammon to make senior leap

James McCarthy is the sole Wigan player in Trapattoni's thoughts right now, but he reckons it's only a matter of time before Conor Sammon becomes an important performer for both club and country.

Sammon moved from Kilmarnock in January and starred as a supersub in Wigan's escape from relegation, yet he continues to be cast in that role rather than getting a starting berth.

"He's a big powerful lad and it would be great to see him here as well," said McCarthy. "If he can get playing regularly, maybe he'll get in the squad. He's a real athlete who puts himself about."

Number of the day

85,000 The approx-imate population of Andorra, which has grown from a mere 5,000 back in 1900.

It is the sixth smallest nation in Europe.

Still, it has almost three times the population of San Marino, who Steve Staunton's Ireland struggled against back in 2007.

Footballese of the day

Different Class

The school of media training can steer footballers towards stock phrases, and James McCarthy was in top form in Malahide yesterday.

His phrase of the day was "different class" -- a lavish compliment -- that was dished out on seven occasions in his 10-minute chat.

The defensive performance in Moscow which resulted in earning a point; the Keith Andrews/Glenn Whelan partnership, and Richard Dunne were amongst those attached with that label by the affable Glaswegian.

DANIEL MCDONNELL

Irish Independent

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