herald

Friday 30 September 2016

Past Irish victories fire Ward for battle

Stephen Ward. Photo: Sportsfile
Stephen Ward. Photo: Sportsfile

Stephen Ward hopes that Ireland's record of claiming some big scalps in recent times can help the side get the win they need against Italy on Wednesday to stay involved in Euro 2016.

The Republic suffered the second-worst defeat at a major finals in Saturday's 3-0 loss to Belgium and realistically, only a win against an Italian side, who plan to rest some key players for their final group game as they are already assured of a place in the last 16.

"We've beaten big teams before," says Ward, beaten just once in his three appearances against Italy at senior level to date.

"We're just disappointed with the couple of goals that we've given away against Belgium, that we didn't at least make it harder for them, but we have a good group of players in there and we'll dust ourselves down and go again.

"We do know we have another game to come. We need to give it everything against the Italian side and see where it gets us."

Robbie Brady, who may revert to left back on Wednesday, also draws on past successes to help give this Irish side some hope.

"Even up to this point we've never done things the easy way - it always looks like we're off and then we come back again and that's what we'll be needing to do to put ourselves through," says Brady.

"It's definitely not out of our hands yet and we'll be doing all we can to get a result and push ourselves through," Brady added, trying to distance the memories of Saturday in Bordeaux.

"Naturally you're disappointed, but you've got to try and shake it off because we've got a massive game against Italy and we need to prove our worth and show why we're here - and that's to get out of the group. It will be a tough task but hopefully we can go on and do it.

"We still need to go out and pick up points and hopefully that's what we'll do in the next game. Three points would be great - hopefully we can do enough to push ourselves through. Although the Belgium game is very disappointing, you've got to keep a clear mind and make sure we don't dwell on it too much.

"We have a few days' preparation now before the biggest games of our lives so hopefully we can prove our worth. We have a lot of matchwinners in this team and hopefully someone can come up with the goods come the Italy game."

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