Trap talks up Ireland's chances
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND manager Giovanni Trapattoni yesterday expressed renewed confidence in Ireland's chances of qualifying for the European Championships after their important win in Armenia on Friday night.
"We have learned we can get a result even when we don't play well," said Trapattoni yesterday. "We now know that if it isn't a beautiful day for us that it doesn't matter. You just keep going, looking for one point if that is available or grinding out a win if it is available."
Trapattoni's optimism reflects the growing sense that Ireland have a squad and, more importantly, the spirit to get them to the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
Ireland play Andorra at Lansdowne Road on Tuesday night and yesterday Trapattoni would make no promises about entertainment but he does expect a victory. With Slovakia playing in Moscow on the same night, Ireland's main rivals could drop points, something that cannot be considered against Andorra.
The manager will not make changes to the starting team, despite the draining conditions in Yerevan on Friday night which he said left the players struggling for air in the opening minutes.
Robbie Keane will play and Trapattoni dismissed suggestions that his captain would need knee surgery or could be rested for Tuesday's game.
Paul McShane, who missed the game with a hamstring injury, has returned to the squad but Damien Duff will not be considered. However, Trapattoni expects him to return for the key games in October at home to Russia and away in Slovakia.
Ireland will be able to judge their progress then even if the game in Armenia showed a team learning from all their painful experiences.
"We should be more battle-hardened now," Shay Given says. "We should have learned from the mistakes of the past and we are a little older, obviously I'm a lot older than most of them, but the lads have got a few years' more experience and when you do go one goal up, especially away from home, you should be happy with what you have got and not go looking for a second goal."
Keith Fahey, who scored the decisive goal, may be considered from the start. "I like him, I trust him as a player and I am not frightened when he is on the ball," Trapattoni said.
Ireland have no reason to be frightened of Andorra, even as Trapattoni trotted out the line about easy games and how they don't exist in international football. He cited Cyprus, not only Ireland's experience but Portugal's on Friday when they drew 4-4.
Trapattoni will want a boost in goal difference on Tuesday and he spoke of Ireland qualifying as best runner-up (although matches against Andorra would not count at that stage) which may need them to score some more goals. More importantly, it will need Ireland to keep winning.
Trapattoni says there is now mutual trust between his players and him. "I don't make excuses about the players we are missing, we had no Hunt or no Duff. I am happy with this squad and this team."
Meanwhile, Trapattoni's predecessor Steve Staunton will be re-united with Stephen Ireland this week if, as expected, he is confirmed as part of Aston Villa's new management regime. Gerard Houllier will be named as director of football with Staunton assisting Kevin MacDonald.
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