It's study time for the boys in green
THE Irish travelling party arrived in Tallinn last night to get down to serious business and the squad will spend this morning studying videos of their Euro 2012 opponents, Estonia, WRITES DANIEL McDONNELL.
Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli have spent the majority of this week trying to play down expectations, and they will highlight the strengths of Tarmo Ruutli's surprise packages, although they should be able to identify a few weaknesses as well, considering that the Baltic nation lost four times in qualifying.
Some of the players already have an idea what lies in store, with goalkeeper Shay Given preparing to be kept busy by a team that likes to shoot from distance -- key midfielder Konstantin Vassiljev is a particular threat.
"They don't mind a long range shot to be fair," said Given. "Over the next few days, we'll hone in on their strong points with the manager."
Given engaged in some training before making the flight yesterday, and will take a full part in proceedings at the A Le Coq arena this evening. He is troubled by a neck problem which he picked up at Aston Villa last Friday.
"I had to take a couple of painkillers for our game on Saturday (v Norwich) and since then I've been sort of progressively feeling a bit worse, but I'm feeling a bit better today, so I'm alright. It wouldn't stop me from playing even at its worst though," he added.
Overall, the Irish squad are in good health, with Richard Dunne, Keith Fahey and Keith Andrews all okay after shaking off minor complaints.
Tardelli is certainly happy with the team's prospects. While the Italian World Cup winner says that the tie is evenly balanced, he admitted to feeling confident about the outcome. "We must play without any regrets. I am confident, I don't know why I am, but I am confident," he said, before quickly adding with a grin: "I know why, sorry."
The reason? "I believe in my players. Estonia are similar players, but maybe we have more skilful players. I think Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady are players who can change the match."
Trapattoni will name his starting XI this evening, with Jon Walters in line to be named as Robbie Keane's strike partner, although Tardelli was at pains to stress that Simon Cox is still in the frame.