Wednesday 13 December 2017

Changes to team look likely for Slovakia clash

IRELAND have had an unchanged team for the last three competitive games, but veteran Kevin Kilbane admits that Giovanni Trapattoni may be forced into changes as a reaction to the insipid display by the men in green shirts for the first 70 minutes of last night's game.

"If there were changes made for the next game I don't think it would be too much of a surprise, let's just say that," Kilbane told the Herald after last night's defeat.

"Everyone in the squad is capable of coming into the team and doing well. That's why we have a squad and we have lads who are pushing for a place in the starting XI now. We have a good core of players now, so every man in that squad is good enough to play.

"Every person in this squad wants to play and after a defeat, it's the manager's prerogative to make changes if he thinks they are needed. So we will analyse the game, we will train today and again tomorrow and see what the manager has planned.

"But we have to go to Slovakia now and put in a good show. They'll have something to prove after last night's defeat in Armenia so the group is wide open. But we have to be better than that last night, especially at home," added Kilbane.

In the build-up to the match, there was a hope among the Irish support that the Russian game would see Ireland take the approach we all saw in Paris -- confident, aggressive, attacking and fluid play -- instead of the more compact, defensive and basically dull stuff we see so often in so many games, which led to so many draws, and Kilbane admits that more of an edge is needed.


"We have to be more consistent, we need more consistency in our attacking play. In the last campaign we were comfortable in a lot of the games, but also in a lot of the games we didn't do enough to go on and win the matches.

"Paris was one of our best performances over 90 minutes -- well 120 minutes really -- though, we can't keep looking back to Paris all the time," added Kilbane.

In the early stages of the second half, as that superb Russia side waltzed into a 3-0 lead, we were scratching our heads and scouring the record books to see how bad this was in terms of what we'd seen before with our national team.

At 3-0, references were made to the last time Ireland lost at home so heavily in a competitive game (4-1 at Lansdowne Road against Denmark in 1985) or just lost so comprehensively at home in any game (Holland taught Steve Staunton's side a lesson in 2006).

The late goals made the scoreline more respectable so the record books were put back on the shelf, but the point remained that it's a long, long time since a team came to Dublin for a non-competitive game and looked like they were from another planet in comparison to the boys in green.

"I know we lost 4-0 to Holland in a friendly but, in terms of a competitive game, that was the first time I have seen us outplayed like that at home," said Kilbane. "Russia played extremely well and we didn't have too many answers for them. We had an off night but they were the better side. We did change things later on, bringing Shane Long and Keith Fahey on changed things for us a bit and they were two good introductions for us.

"Early on we could have been a few more goals down, we didn't do well enough for that hour and we allowed them to play. We started OK, had a couple of chances early on but other than that they dominated. Dominated the ball, dominated everything.

"Once we were 3-0 down we didn't have much else to do, just have a go and get back into it but we couldn't get that third goal. Russia came away with a 3-2 win and they slightly deserved it."

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