Tuesday 23 January 2018

Doyle's injury just goes to prove that rigid Irish system has a major flaw

KEVIN Doyle should be sent to a beach somewhere to kick back and dream about playing for a team which doesn't require him to push himself to exhaustion in every game.

He's earned a break already and the season is only a few months old. Add in a knee injury and Giovanni Trapattoni's attacking options have been halved.

It never rains but it dumps it down. After receiving a spanking from the Russians on Friday night at the Aviva Stadium, the last thing Trapattoni needed was to lose Doyle.

The Irish warm-down session in Portmarnock saw several first-choice picks in different stages of recovery from knocks and bruises.

Glenn Whelan had his hamstring heavily strapped, as did Liam Lawrence, and Richard Dunne eased his bones back to the hotel at a gentle walking pace while the session continued.

Doyle's absence is bad enough but Dunne must play against Slovakia or the damage to morale and the Irish defence would be huge.

It was Dunne who had the courage to come out and speak plain English about the performance against Russia and the tactics used. His leadership will be crucial in Zilina.

The upside of Doyle's withdrawal from the team to play Slovakia tomorrow is that Trapattoni has been pushed closer and closer to changing the way Ireland play.

After Russia, the possibility that Slovakia will also push five into midfield and kill Trapattoni's long-ball strategy from the kick-off is a real one.

But from what Marco Tardelli said after training yesterday, it doesn't look like his gaffer has any radical change on his mind.

Asked whether there was a chance that Robbie Keane would be deployed as an extra midfielder, Tardelli wasn't too impressed with the idea.

"No, I don't think so," he said. "Maybe it's possible to play a young player (as a lone striker), but tomorrow Giovanni will decide."

That does seem to suggest that Trapattoni was considering the possibility of withdrawing Keane into a midfield role, leaving Doyle to do the hard graft on his own up front.

Perhaps Shane Long has done enough to offer himself as a realistic alternative to Doyle, but Trapattoni is much more likely to do a straight swap and roll the dice again with his system.

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