Sport Soccer

Sunday 21 January 2018

O’Shea urges caution against Austria with World Cup hopes on the line

Damian Spellman

JOHN O'SHEA has warned the Republic of Ireland they cannot afford to risk their chances of World Cup qualification by losing their heads against Austria.

The Republic will face the Austrians at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow evening knowing victory would leave them in second place in Group C behind leaders and favourites Germany.

However, O'Shea is equally aware that all the hard work which secured a 0-0 draw in Sweden on Friday would be wasted if they launched an all-out assault and forgot about their defensive responsibilities.

The 31-year-old said: "If we can start on the front foot, like we did against Sweden, and have the pressing, cohesive unit that we had the other night and stop Austria playing, then we can build our attacks from there.

"But let's wait and see how they decide to approach the game as well.

"It will be on us as the home side, but we are not going to be too silly and go gung-ho because they have got lots of attacking threats."

The phrase "gung-ho" is simply not in manager Giovanni Trapattoni's vocabulary, and not just because of his limited English.

Trapattoni is a man for whom results mean everything, and while he too knows the game is a must-win affair if Ireland are to stand a chance of making it to the finals in Brazil next summer, he will look to defensive solidity to provide a platform for what happens at the other end of the pitch.

He was delighted with what he saw at the Friends Arena with goalkeeper David Forde making his competitive debut and Seamus Coleman, Ciaran Clark and Marc Wilson lining up alongside O'Shea at the back.

O'Shea said: "The more consistency the team can get with selection, I suppose, the better, and also the confidence from Seamus and Marc as an attacking threat also joining, it was good to see the other night.

"But the manager obviously balanced that out with Paul Green covering across, so the tactics the other night worked to a treat and we will wait and see what we have up our sleeve for Tuesday night, I suppose.

"But we have to make sure we can cause Austria more problems maybe than we did the Swedes.

"But look, it's an international game of football. Generally at the moment, there is very little between teams, so if we can do a bit more with our set-pieces also, we will be able to cause them lots more problems.

"The formation from us I don't think will change too much. Whether one or two of the personnel change, we will have to wait and see.

"But we are the home team and we have to go out and win the game if we want to be qualifying for the World Cup. It's very simple."

Ireland have suffered a blow, though ,with skipper Robbie Keane ruled out because of a calf problem, while Jon Walters is nursing a back injury, but midfielder Glenn Whelan, who missed the game in Sweden because of an ankle injury, has returned to training and is likely to be reinstated.

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