Monday 11 December 2017

Wes Hoolahan plays his way into Trap’s plans

Wes Hoolahan in action against the Faroes
Wes Hoolahan in action against the Faroes

Damian Spellman

Wes Hoolahan may have played his way into a regular starting berth after masterminding the Republic of Ireland's 3-0 World Cup qualifier victory over the Faroe Islands.

The Norwich playmaker was handed a rare chance to start a competitive game in the absence of the suspended James McCarthy and produced an individual display full of invention and incisive passing.

Skipper Robbie Keane claimed the headlines with a hat-trick on the night he set a new appearance record for his country by winning a 126th cap.

However, Trapattoni was equally pleased with Hoolahan's contribution to a game his side simply had to win.

The Italian said: "He was fantastic, as he was in the last game. He has a good personality, he's creative, but he also pressed as well, which is very important.

"I have said in the past that maybe we ignored him slightly, but at that moment, we had achieved qualification [for Euro 2012] and we were looking at a new group of players.

"Hoolahan is not old, but he's 31 and at that time, we had Darron Gibson, Glenn Whelan, Keith Andrews and other players.

"It was a pity because he has showed us against that he is fantastically creative and one of the best Irish players in this position."

Asked if Hoolahan was now in contention to start when the qualifying campaign resumes in September, Trapattoni said: "Sure, yes.

"It depends on his form at that moment, but if he continues to play as he is at the moment, yes."

Ireland needed just five minutes to get their noses in front when Keane dispatched Aiden McGeady's cross past keeper Gunnar Nielsen, although the Faroes proved stubborn opponents and managed to get to half-time without further mishap.

However, the game was effectively over 10 minutes after the break when Keane slid in to convert Seamus Coleman's delivery, and he completed his treble nine minutes from time with substitutes James McClean and Conor Sammon combining to set him up.

Trapattoni said: "Obviously this evening, it was very, very important to win the game and we won.

"People want five, six, seven, eight goals - it's not so easy, but we played well, particularly in the first half. We had three or four or five opportunities to score.

"The players said to me they had the sun in their eyes and they lost the moment to pass the ball, but after, we deserved to score.

"I particularly wish to congratulate our captain because for 30 years, I have known the Irish team and the Irish players and for me, he is the best Irish player I have known in 30 years.

"I wish to congratulate him because he scored. At the moment, he is in good form, but I repeat what I said yesterday, he is also one of the best players in Europe."

Press Association

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