herald

Saturday 23 September 2017

Never mind the injuries, we're ready for the Welsh

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill
Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill

No matter how many men go down, no matter how many key players are missing, I don't have the same worries about this Ireland time than I used to have.

I'm not completely sure how it has happened but this group of Irish players and manager Martin O'Neill (pictured) have taken away a lot of the uncertainty about international football.

I'm feeling oddly confident about this game against Wales even though O'Neill and the rest of us have virtually no idea a week out from the game which team he will be able to put out.

In defence, O'Neill is missing key men and has major injury doubts over several players but do you know what? I'm not worried.

In midfield, we have doubts about Wes Hoolahan, Robbie Brady is suspended and James McCarthy's fitness is, as ever, a source of dispute between O'Neill and Robert Koeman.

But I'm not bothered. Aiden McGeady is on fire and O'Neill still has plenty of options.

One of the biggest reasons for the unusual sense of well-being I've been felling coming up to a a very important football game for Ireland is the fact that Wales are not the team we saw in France.

Gareth Bale remains formidable but this is a player who hasn't been doing very much since November

I don't care how good a player is and there's no doubt, Bale in full flight is a handful, but he hasn't played enough football to be operating at his peak and to be honest, I'd be more concerned about Aaron Ramsey.

Stop him, stop Wales.

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