DESPITE injuries, suspensions and widespread criticism over his tactics, Giovanni Trapattoni has insisted Ireland can secure a result against Russia today to keep their Euro 2012 qualification hopes alive -- thereby boosting his own hopes of extending his contract with the FAI.
Making just two enforced changes to his team, with Stephen Kelly in for the injured John O'Shea and Darren O'Dea replacing the suspended Sean St Ledger, Trapattoni declared: "We can win the game. No team is unbeatable."
With defeat in Moscow likely to have grave consequences for the Italian, outlandish speculation in the English media floating Roy Keane as a possible successor has hardly helped the mood.
That prospect has been laughed off by numerous sources, but the Corkman -- who has been out of work since his departure from Ipswich -- was also linked yesterday with a return to football as manager of Iceland.
However, it is understood he failed to show for a meeting about the vacant post. Indeed, the Icelandic FA had said that the 40-year-old was in the running for the job, indicating he was on a shortlist.
A move to the North Atlantic seems highly unlikely, as is any possible link-up with Ireland. Keane has been vocal in his criticism of the FAI under the stewardship under John Delaney -- and the Waterford man hit out at Keane when the ex-Manchester United man was in charge of Sunderland, hinting he should mind his own business. It would take an astonishing leap for the pair to ever work together.
Despite Russia's daunting home record, Trapattoni's optimism was echoed by captain Robbie Keane.
"Don't think for one second that we're coming here to lie down, or thinking that Russia are going to roll us over," said the Dubliner. "Believe you me, the players know we're coming here to get a result."
Victory here would put Ireland back on top of Group B, but Trapattoni's men face a mammoth task missing two of the preferred back four and Keane and Shay Given playing through the pain barrier. see pages 65-67