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Vera Pauw looks for Katie McCabe to push Ireland to the next level

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Katie McCabe, right, being put through her paces by Vera Pauw during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown last night. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Katie McCabe, right, being put through her paces by Vera Pauw during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown last night. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Vera Pauw

Vera Pauw

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Katie McCabe, right, being put through her paces by Vera Pauw during a Republic of Ireland training session at the FAI National Training Centre in Abbotstown last night. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

For Vera Pauw’s Ireland, the challenge this evening is to manage the transition from plucky underdogs to a team expected to carry themselves like top dogs.

The role of skipper and Arsenal star Katie McCabe will be central to managing the transition.

McCabe has overcome a foot injury to be passed fit for the first leg of a Tallaght double-header that the Republic of Ireland will be expected to win, even though Slovakia’s track record shows they can be a difficult opponent to break down and they have spoken with confidence about what they can achieve on their travels.

There was a backs to the wall element about Ireland’s epic win in Finland last month that has put Pauw’s side in an excellent position in their World Cup qualifying group, but the expectation is that they will have more of the ball at home and utilising McCabe’s threat on the left side will be central to that.

Pauw laughed when asked about McCabe’s best position, but the reality, as she pointed out, is that the Dubliner needs the support of her team-mates so she can afford to be more ambitious in her attacking play. This is pivotal when it comes to a challenge like this one.

“Of course, we want her further forward, we managed that against Finland,” said Pauw, with a nod to McCabe who effectively operated as a left wing-back. “That was part of her growth as a player.

“As long as we play this way, this is the best position for her, we get the most out of her. I would like to highlight that it’s possible for her to go forward because of the players that are less visible.

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“I hope the ceiling is not there yet (for McCabe) and she’s growing and growing. Before, there were moments where she could not identify whether to stay away or dial into a situation.

“Now she has matured so much under pressure in Arsenal in that league. Her task in our team has developed so that we can all see how she became a top, top star. It’s good she is so open for different roles and does everything to get the best role for her in this team.”

Pauw and her staff will be listening out for the result of the earlier clash between Sweden and Finland and she was reluctant to declare a preferred outcome.

A shock loss for Sweden would open up a shot at top spot for Ireland but it would also bring Finland firmly back into the equation and staying ahead of them was Plan A at the start of this race.


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