Monday 11 December 2017

Trapattoni backs charges to make point with Italian’s job in balance

Gionvanni Trapattoni speaks to the press yesterday
Gionvanni Trapattoni speaks to the press yesterday
Damien Duff chips a pass over Andy Keogh in training yesterday
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

GIOVANNI Trapattoni has expressed confidence that his Irish team will deliver on a night where defeat against Armenia would cost him his job.

Ireland need a point to book a place in the Euro 2012 play-offs, which might be enough to secure Trapattoni a two-year extension on his contract, although the FAI will not make a final decision until the qualification picture is complete.

Armenia arrive in Dublin as the form side with 11 goals in their last three games.

However, Trapattoni (pictured at yesterday's press conference in Malahide) is sure that his battle-hardened charges can see off their younger opponents.

"We have to respect this team, but I am confident," said the 72-year-old. "If we show maturity, we can get the result."

With Robbie Keane ruled out of the game and a doubt for next month if Ireland progress, Trapattoni has opted for Simon Cox as his replacement.

The West Brom striker is preferred ahead of his clubmate Shane Long because he is better suited to Keane's normal role in the Italian's rigid 4-4-2 system.

"Only the result of the game will show if it's the right choice," said Trapattoni. "Cox can drop back to support the midfield. Long will be very important in the second half."

Richard Dunne comes back from suspension to partner Sean St Ledger in the heart of defence, while Fulham's Stephen Kelly replaces the banned Stephen Ward at left-back.

A win would ensure that Ireland are seeded in the play-off draw unless Serbia and France finish as runners-up in their respective groups. Serbia are favourites to win in Slovenia and jump into second in Group C, but it would be a surprise if the French don't get the draw they need at home to Bosnia to top Group D.

If Trapattoni's men make it by virtue of a draw, a variety of permutations will decide the rankings. Before the play-off possibilities can be considered, however, the Irish manager has a far simpler equation to deal with to secure at least a point tonight.

Irish Independent

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