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‘I know for a fact that Finland will be thinking that they have to get three points off us’


Amber Barrett during a Republic of Ireland Women training session at Helsinki Olympic Stadium

Amber Barrett during a Republic of Ireland Women training session at Helsinki Olympic Stadium

Amber Barrett during a Republic of Ireland Women training session at Helsinki Olympic Stadium

Amber Barrett is likely to get the green light to go for Ireland later which will help her delay seeing red before her return to the frustration of her day job.

A traffic light of emotions have tugged at the Donegal woman’s emotions this past month, tenacious for her country yet tottering for her club.

Despite signing a summer contract extension with promoted Bundesliga outfit FC Koln, and earning effusive from the manger who handed her the pen, the Milford star has picked up more splinters than minutes in a deeply disappointing start to the season.

Only her international commitments have kept her spirits high as, literally, she became central to Vera Pauw’s intentions.

After starting in central midfield for the injury-ravaged side that stunned Australia last month, she sprung from the bench to fill a similar role in last week’s defeat to Sweden.

“Vera had a conversation with me in the last camp where she mentioned she wanted me to play this role,” she reveals as Pauw begun to lavishly tinker with the options at her disposal.

“When the manager wants you to play a certain position and it means representing your country, you’ll play anywhere.

“It absolutely took me by surprise because I would always have considered myself as an out and out No 9.

“If you look at the best players in the world, they’re all flexible. Katie (McCabe) can go left midfield, left wing, go in as a No 10. The same with Denise (O’Sullivan).

“We need to have that flexibility in our positions. It’s something I have to learn and adapt to.

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“Vera said that I was good on the ball and get forward to support Heather (Payne) and Lucy (Quinn). She said I probably have the speed that others don’t to get up and down.

“We were down numbers in the last camp, Megan Connolly was a big loss. Maybe I just filled in a role but I’d be happy to play in goal if Vera wanted!”

To some of us, Barrett’s arrival was accompanied by a sense of too much flux last week as the Irish formation changed with bewildering frequency before he predictably unimaginative late clarion call when Louise Quinn was sent foraging.

“It was just to go at them when I got the ball,” reports Barrett. “It was sticking to the gameplan until Louise went up front, trying to isolate the two centre-backs and get Leanne or Heather on them one-on-one.

“There were opportunities but as a striker it can be difficult, a lot of long sprints. They were dropping off as the game went on which suited them. Louise gave them something to think about.

“It’s something we have to adapt to, changing the point of attack. The ball just didn’t drop for us.

“Other players are good at what you’re good at, or better at it. You have to be learning, getting better at things, and that’s why the majority of players have moved abroad into professional football.

“You get exposed to a situation where you can’t just knock the ball past someone because the defenders are as quick as you. Everybody needs versatility.

“Our strikers need to add something different. Every game requires different levels. We all have to be ready where we’re asked.”

Given that Rianna Jarrett couldn’t even make the bench, one could argue Ireland’s forward options are healthier than they have been at some time, even if not reflected by their output.

“One of the things for Ireland over the years is that we never really had players who you could play as out and out strikers. The depth is fantastic.

“If we played Georgia tomorrow, there could be a different XI. Same in a game against Slovakia.

“It keeps the pressure on everybody. You have to maintain standards to be involved in a camp.”

If only the same could apply when she wings it back to Cologne.

She has yet to start any of their six league games and is stranded in double figures in terms of minutes; a risible stint in injury time last weekend in her side’s first win of the season prompted her pique to peak.

“I’m just a wee bit frustrated. I’m always honest if someone is playing better or I’m not training as good but I’m not getting a look-in no matter what I’m doing,” adds the 25-year-old.

“They’re not very helpful in terms of what I need to do. Something’s not right if I’m not playing. I feel good. My head’s good, which is important. I haven’t killed anybody yet!

“I asked for feedback a couple of weeks ago. They said to stay positive but my idea of positive is different.

“We beat Carl Zeiss Jena last Sunday which was a huge result. They’re the team that will be thereabouts for relegation.

“The first five games were tough. We played Bayern, Wolfsburg, Hoffenheim and Frankfurt. Those four are top of the league.

“We’ll find out how we’ll be doing after the next few games. I really love FC Koln and am very happy there.

“Sometimes you need a wee bit more guidance. Seriously, the coach has been good for me and very helpful but sometimes I just want to get a little bit of feedback.

“You don’t always get it but this is professional sport. You’re not going to get everything handed on a plate. Sometimes you have through these little periods. “There are 21 players in the squad and 10 are saying the same things as myself.

“The mood is good. You can see from training everyday that we’re pushing each other all the time. That’s my attitude.

“It was difficult at the start of the season but hopefully we’ll get more results to get us going.”

A result tonight is all that matters for now.

“I know for a fact that Finland will be thinking that they have to get three points off us as well. It’s definitely going to be in many ways, even at this early stage, a six-pointer.

“Honestly a positive result in Helsinki to get us really started in the group is exactly what we’re looking for.”

Despite her colourful array of challenges lately, there can be no grey areas in Helsinki.