Friday 19 January 2018

Doyle refuses to rule out Trap 'curve ball' after frustrating shift

Kevin Doyle finds it
tough going as he
battles it out with
Hungary's Adam
Pinter last night
Kevin Doyle finds it tough going as he battles it out with Hungary's Adam Pinter last night
David Kelly

David Kelly

Kevin Doyle admits that Ireland's XI for their Group C opener against Croatia may not be set in stone -- although he insists that his half-time withdrawal will not affect his own starting prospects.

"I didn't know he'd done that," said the Wexford man of Giovanni Trapattoni's decision to confirm that last night's starting line-up will also kick off Euro 2012 against Croatia.

Trapattoni's unnerving, dyspeptic post-match reaction after an uncertain display may harden Doyle's instinct; more will be revealed today when the players re-congregate on Polish soil.

"I've just been informed about that now. But things can always change. He's thrown in some curve balls before. I wouldn't say it's 100pc certain. It won't change anyone's intensity in training or how we go about things. And it won't make any difference to me."

Doyle had an uncomfortable opening 45 minutes, deployed in a predominantly deep-lying role as captain Robbie Keane ploughed an unproductive furrow in the boggy marsh up front on his own for lengthy periods.

"I don't know if it worked well ... it was a tough pitch tonight," Doyle said. "The pitch was like a sponge. It was energy-sapping. One of us will always have to drop deep, especially against Spain and the way they play. It's something we need to be able to do."

Whatever about the individual confidence of certain players, the collective spirit will remain emboldened by a 14th successive unbeaten game.

Croatian manager Slaven Bilic's remarkable assertion that it would be easier to divine a one-on-one opportunity against Italy than Ireland produced a wry reaction from Keith Andrews.

"Did he say that? Was he at the match?" he asked, nonplussed.

"It's well documented our style of play and how we are set up. We are very frustrating to play against, I can imagine.

"We have great belief in ourselves and we take great pride in our unbeaten run and clean sheets."

On the injury front, there were no late scares, with Keiren Westwood confirming that he knew he would be required for the second half with No 1 netminder Shay Given also asserting that the switch had been planned.

John O'Shea had been the main injury; physically, he confirmed his well-being, even if a second-half stint at right-back underscored the occasional doubts about his deployment there.

Glad to get 90 minutes? "Exactly," he replied. "I was never particularly concerned I'd ever miss the tournament.

"I knew once I trained for four or five days I'd be okay. With the ankle you can go over on it, so I'm going to have to keep an eye on it.

"The downpour made conditions tricky. We kept the clean sheet, just about, and it was good to get through the 90 minutes. It's onwards and upwards now for Poland.

"We're proud of the record but we know we're going to have to take our chances; we had a bit of luck defensively as well."

That, as is often the case, is putting the case extremely mildly although Andrews was unwilling to absorb any misgivings.

"It's obviously not a fluke, is it?"

His question seemed to hang in the night air with all the uncertainty that had accompanied another improbable unbeaten outing.

- Alan Thompson has called in his lawyers after being dismissed by Neil Lennon over the telephone.

Celtic confirmed the Englishman's departure on their website in a statement which claimed Thompson (38) failed to attend a pre-arranged meeting with the Parkhead boss in Newcastle.

Irish Independent

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