Andrews: We're all in it together
Andrews claims collective effort of 'mish-mash' side will work to Irish advantage
KEITH ANDREWS believes that it's the "mish-mash" nature of the men who make up the Ireland squad that is the team's strength ahead of the Euro 2012 finals.
The West Brom midfielder is looking forward to his first international tournament in Poland this summer, as he is now one of the first names on the team-sheet in Giovanni Trapattoni's mind.
There is no Irish involvement in the latter stages of the Champions League or Europa League, and no Irishman will play a part in the Premier League title race in England.
But that apparent weakness is a strength, in Andrews' mind at least.
"We're not blessed with players who are playing in the top three or four teams in the Premier League or the top teams around Europe. We are a bit of a mish-mash of players from all over but when we come together we are a force to be reckoned with," Andrews told Newstalk's Off The Ball show.
"I can't comment on what happened before I got involved but once I came into the squad I was welcomed in, it was a very friendly atmosphere. The manager had only taken over and it was a new regime.
"That's the secret behind our success, the players want to turn up for every trip, there are no pull-outs for non-genuine reasons. We all get on really well."
Andrews has again defended Ireland's style of play and believes that the success of Euro 2012 qualification is down to that style and tactical approach.
I am a bit biased because the manager has stuck by me, through thick and thin. I am well aware of the critics that he has out there but if we did play this free-flowing, expansive football that people want to see, maybe we wouldn't be where we are now, in terms of looking forward to a nice couple of weeks in June," Andrews added.
"He has set out his stall, he recognises the players he has at his disposal, and we are a force to be reckoned with. We are hard to beat and in a tournament-type situation, which we will be in June, I am fully confident that we can do well.
"People want us to play this expansive football and so do we, we do it every day in training and that's what you enjoy doing," he added.
"But you also enjoy winning football matches. You go and do that against the top teams in Europe and end up on the losing side, it's not enjoyable.
"We would like to get forward a bit more, in the case of the first leg against Estonia we said before the game that we'd like to get at them early on. The pitch wasn't great so we wanted to get at them in their defensive third and we did that," said Andrews, whose goal in Tallinn set Ireland on the way to qualification.
The West Brom man is certain to make the squad and guaranteed to start against Croatia in Poznan once he's fit, but less certain is the idea of fringe players like James McClean making the cut, and Andrews believes that it takes new players time to learn what is demanded by Trapattoni at this level.
"When players come into the squad for the first time, we're tending to do the same drills that we were doing three or four years ago and it's normal training for us," Andrews stated.
"It's certain responsibilities that players have within the squad, the manager wants the wingers tucking in and doubling back to help out the full-backs.
In the last game against the Czech Republic it was James McClean's first trip, he's an out-and-out winger but he will have to tailor his game to suit our style of play.
"He won't be able to just stand on that touchline and wait for the ball and do what's natural to him, he will have to tweak his game to play in this regime."