Wednesday 13 December 2017

Euro 2012: Richard Dunne and Darron Gibson train in countdown to vital Spain clash

Richard Dunne pictured at squad training today with former Irish international Jason McAteer
Richard Dunne pictured at squad training today with former Irish international Jason McAteer

RICHARD Dunne was back in training today as the Republic of Ireland continued their preparations for Thursday night's Euro 2012 showdown with Spain.

The Aston Villa man sat out yesterday's session with blistered feet, but resumed at the Municipal Stadium in Gdynia this morning.

Midfielder Darron Gibson was also able to take part after undergoing a scan on a thigh muscle yesterday with manager Giovanni Trapattoni having all 23 members of his squad in action.

Trapattoni admits he does not know what to expect from Spain counterpart Vicente del Bosque as the pair prepare for Euro 2012 battle.

Del Bosque caused raised eyebrows when he named his team for Sunday night's Group C opener against Italy and did not include a single specialist striker.

That left £50m Fernando Torres and Athletic Bilbao star Fernando Llorente, among others, kicking their heels on the bench.

However, Republic of Ireland manager Trapattoni is not about to try to second-guess an old foe ahead of Thursday night's must-win encounter between the two nations in Gdansk.

He said: "I think after I saw the game, maybe, maybe, he will play with Torres. Maybe. But Vicente decides his own tactics.

"Maybe he thought the Italians have a good defence and he would play with these small, fast and tactical players.

"He changed when he understood. At this moment, he had the necessity to put up front a big striker and he [Torres] had a good opportunity.

"I don't know how he will play against us. Sure, we know which team we have in front of us, what quality they have. I have an idea, but at this moment, I couldn't say 'this' or 'this' or 'this'.

"But I can't think about if they will play with Torres or without Torres, also Llorente or the other strikers. That's not my job, it's Vicente's job."

Del Bosque eventually introduced Chelsea man Torres, who passed up a glorious opportunity, but his selection led to accusations of negativity.

Trapattoni is himself no stranger to that kind of criticism, but he has always - and continues to do so - denied charges of conservatism.

Asked if he had ever fielded a team without a recognised striker, he said: "Personally no, never.

"In Italy, I played with Platini, Boniek, Rossi and Bettega, four strikers. In Italy, it is the fashion among your colleagues to say I am defensive.

"I won many, many games, we scored more goals, we conceded fewer goals, but in Italy, they write 'Trapattoni is defensive'.

"That's history. We play with McGeady, Duff, Keane, Doyle, and [people say] we play defensively. I don't know how many offensive players we need to play in order to be offensive."

Ireland will go into the Spain game knowing their involvement in the tournament will effectively be over if they do not come out of it with something to show for their efforts following Sunday night's 3-1 defeat by Croatia.

They were made to pay for conceding goals at key moments - after just three minutes, on the stroke of half-time and then again just after the restart, although Trapattoni insisted lack of concentration was not to blame.

He said: "Maybe it was tension. In the first two minutes, we conceded a goal, and it was very, very heavy psychologically. We put our opponents in better condition to play their football.

"Maybe it was our confidence. After 14 games without losing, we were disappointed about what happened because we have not conceded goals in many games."

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