Saturday 20 October 2018

Bell plans to halt Dutch machine

Colin Bell. Photo: Sportsfile
Colin Bell. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Megan Campbell's throw-ins have been vital in Ireland's perfect start to their women's World Cup qualifiers but Colin Bell insists the team can cope without her when they travel to European champions Holland on Tuesday.

The left-back ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Manchester City in last week's Champions League victory over LSK Kvinner, prematurely ending an impressive season by the Drogheda-born defender for club and country.

Campbell scored one and created the other goal in the 2-0 win over Northern Ireland in September and continued her form by setting up the opener in last month's victory in Slovakia.

Her repertoire, including the catapult of a throw-in, would have been relied on in Ireland's game-plan to shackle the mighty Dutch before a sold-out 12,000-capacity crowd in Nijmegen.

"Losing Megan is a blow that will affect us but she shouldn't be defined by her special throw-in," said Bell about the player who lost her famous grandfather, Eamonn Campbell of the Dubliners, last month.

"Megan has a great left-foot and is powerful from corners and free-kicks. Her absence leaves a lot of aspects missing but we're working on something else against the Dutch. I can't say anything about it because it can only work once."

As well as Campbell, Bell will also be without Ruesha Littlejohn and Claire O'Riordan through injury. Niamh Prior and Dearbhaile Beirne have been drafted in ahead of today's flight to Amsterdam.

"We have to find a formula to try stop this Dutch machine," contended Bell. "They didn't just win the Euros, they dominated the tournament.

"In the semi-final, they beat an England team 3-0 that were said to be fitter than ever before.

"We'll have to be really at our best to get a 0-0 or 1-1 draw as football experts would say we hardly had a chance. That's fine but we don't believe that. Now the players have to prove it."

Irish Independent

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