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Vera Pauw says equal pay still on agenda as COVID restrictions deny Ireland glamour friendly against Brazil

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Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Ongoing COVID restrictions scuppered the Irish women's side’s plans for potential friendly internationals in England in February, as well as a possible hosting of the Brazilian national side this month.

However, Vera Pauw’s side have assembled in Dublin for the first friendlies of her reign this week, a home tie with Denmark on Thursday in Tallaght, before they visit Belgium two days later while negotiations are ongoing to fill the June window with more friendlies.

The World Cup qualifiers will kick off next September, with the draw for the European qualification process taking place at the end of this month.

Pauw has indicated that everyone in her squad will see game-time this week as she seeks to expand her options, with the novelty of having non-competitive matches in which to do so.

However, Niamh Reid-Burke (retired), Harriet Scott (exams), Megan Campbell, Clare Shine, Leanne Kiernan (injured), Julie-Ann Russell, Nicole Douglas (COVID restrictions) are all unavailable.

"We can only take risks and develop in friendlies, not in competitive games so we will ensure we have the situation and we have friendlies," says Pauw, as the side seek to re-focus after missing out on "the next European Championships.

"We had planned to use last month’s window for a friendly against Northern Ireland but it got called off at the last minute. England would not allow us to travel in.

"It is not the case anymore that Ireland is seen as a country that needs to travel. Brazil contacted us because the coach wanted to play us in Ireland. That was because of our style and play; we are getting a status internationally.

"That’s the same for Denmark. We asked them to come here. I wanted a fixture here against a top team but one we can also build up the play under high pressure.

"The Belgium game came a bit later. We could get lower-ranked teams but I decided to take the chance and play Belgium.

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"We can lose both games, because Denmark are 13 and Belgium are 17 in the world whereas we are 32 but I don’t fear losing at this point. In this stage, we need to learn.

"We can judge the players that have never played for me under high pressure. There will be more of them involved against Belgium."

Ireland have had only ten sessions in the last 18 months and last assembled five months ago ahead of the German defeat, which confirmed their European Championship elimination.

"We haven’t seen this squad’s ceiling yet and we can grow a lot in possession and controlling games under high pressure. That’s why we have chosen these two teams to play against, we need to demonstrate that capacity together."

Pauw has also revealed that she has had initial discussions with FAI top brass about equal pay but for now equal opportunities are much more crucial in her opinion.

"We have of course had discussions. Equal pay is on the table and we will grow towards that but everyone knows the FAI’s circumstances. It’s more about equity and the opportunities to develop, equal pay is a separate issue.

"Equity is developing a pathway for every single player in the same way that boys do. At the moment that is separate. Equal pay is reward for your performances in the international team and that is a different subject."

Republic of Ireland WNT Squad

Goalkeepers: Courtney Brosnan (West Ham United), Marie Hourihan (SC Braga), Grace Moloney (Reading)

Defenders: Keeva Keenan (Celtic), Claire O'Riordan (MSV Duisburg), Louise Quinn (Fiorentina), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (North Carolina Courage), Claire Walsh (Peamount United), Niamh Farrelly (Glasgow City), Áine O'Gorman (Peamount United)

Midfielders: Megan Connolly (Brighton & Hove Albion), Denise O'Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Ellen Molloy (Wexford Youths), Jamie Finn (Shelbourne), Hayley Nolan (London City Lionesses), Ruesha Littlejohn (Birmingham City), Emily Whelan (Shelbourne), Alli Murphy (London City Lionesses), Katie McCabe (Arsenal)

Forwards: Rianna Jarrett (Brighton & Hove Albion), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Heather Payne (Florida State University), Kyra Carusa (HB Hoge)

Republic of Ireland v Denmark
International Friendly
Thursday, April 8
Tallaght Stadium
KO 18:30

Belgium v Republic of Ireland
International Friendly
Sunday, April 11
King Baudouin Stadium
KO 18:30


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