Sport Soccer

Monday 20 November 2017

Whelan: Young guns can get World Cup bid back on track

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

GLENN WHELAN believes that Ireland can get back on track when they return to action after Christmas despite ending a disappointing 2012 with defeat to Greece.

The 1-0 loss may not have been the result that Giovanni Trapattoni's charges were looking for from their first home game since the 6-1 thrashing to Germany, but the Stoke midfielder reckoned that there were encouraging signs from the young players in particular.

The Dubliner was withdrawn midway through the first half of the Lansdowne Road encounter, but he does not believe that it will keep him out when his club side take on West Ham on Monday night.

And before he returned to England, he said that the injection of youth into the Irish set-up had helped to refresh things ahead of the back-to-back qualifiers against Sweden and Austria that will make or break the World Cup 2014 campaign next March.

"Obviously, after the Germany result heads were down," he said. "That was it, our campaign was over. But that wasn't the case. No one has given us the credit that we deserve for the win over the Faroes. It was a better result than people have thought when you look at the games they have been involved in.

"Nobody talked about that because of the result a few days beforehand. We know what we have to do and we are still in with a shout, so you never know.

"We've said beforehand it is the result and the performance that matter. We got the performance but not the result. There are signs of improvement with the new young lads who have come in and done really well. I think it is about getting our confidence back and kicking on."

The likes of Robbie Brady, Ciaran Clark and Seamus Coleman impressed at times against a Greek side who reached the European Championships quarter-finals, and Whelan has been impressed by their attitude.

"The young lads who have come in have got the confidence and the ability. They've been given a chance and while the result didn't go our way, the performance has been much better," he said.

"They don't show much nerves, are very confident, and that's what we need because these are the young lads that are going to push us on. They are the future so hopefully they can keep doing well for their clubs."

Shane Long was another who was withdrawn as a precaution after feeling the hamstring injury he has been carrying during the first half.

And, although he received little opportunity to shine, the West Brom striker believes he can force his way into the team for the friendly against Poland for another chance to stake a claim for the crucial qualifiers in March.

"I hope so. I feel like I'm playing well at club level and I think they were fairly happy with my performance tonight, but he has a few different options to choose from," he said.

Man of the Match Coleman was pleased with his own display and believes that there is plenty to play for when the international season resumes in February.

"That's what we're looking for now. We'll prepare now for the friendly against Poland, but we have those two massive games in March to look forward to," he said.

"We got thumped by Germany, it was disappointing, but we have six points from nine on the table and that's not bad. We probably wouldn't have expected to beat Germany anyway, so we will go into these days positive.''

Irish Independent

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