Wednesday 25 April 2018

Clark's debut on ice with Irish defence in crisis

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

IRELAND new boy Ciaran Clark has missed out on the opportunity to win a first full cap after injuring himself in the warm-up before Aston Villa's Premier League draw with Manchester United on Saturday.

Clark, recently recruited to the cause from England, would have benefited from a defensive crisis which has decimated Giovanni Trapattoni's squad ahead of Wednesday's friendly meeting with Norway at the Aviva Stadium.

His clubmate Richard Dunne also misses the game because of a knee problem, while Kevin Kilbane has been ruled out by a back complaint and Sean St Ledger is a serious doubt due to ligament damage.

Ireland assistant Marco Tardelli admitted yesterday that Clark would have started the game provided he got the go-ahead from FIFA, but the 21-year-old's calf problem has removed the opportunity.

John O'Shea -- the only member of Trap's favoured back four available -- may now move into centre-half, with Trapattoni forced into a serious defensive reshuffle.

Greg Cunningham should come in for Kilbane at left-back, with Darren O'Dea and Marc Wilson contenders for the centre of defence.

Stephen Kelly can also operate across the back four, while Kevin Foley and Seamus Coleman will be viewed as possibles at right-back.

However, Tardelli hinted that the management are conscious that Norway will have a height advantage, which could work against the prospects of the latter pair.

"I know very well this player, (Coleman) but in Norway, there are a lot of tall players. I think we will have difficulty without St Ledger and Richard Dunne," Tardelli said.

With Robbie Keane already out with an ankle problem, Trapattoni will enter the meeting with the Scandinavians with no option but to experiment. Nevertheless, his deputy hinted that the Italian will try and field as experienced a side as possible in the first half before changing thereafter.

Irish Independent

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