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Friday 15 December 2017

Heat is on

Pressure firmly on Trap as Ireland bid to put Russian nightmare behind them

SHOW us what you've got Trap! For the first time in over two years, Giovanni Trapattoni is under pressure and the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 fate could well rest on his response.

A spontanteous upwelling of frustration among his senior players has left Trapattoni groping around in the dark for a way to beat Slovakia and reboot Ireland's qualification effort.

Trapattoni was unable to contain discontent, and after-match quotes from key men told us exactly what the Irish players think of his tactical strait jacket.

Assistant manager Marco Tardelli failed to quell unease among senior members of the Ireland squad ahead of tomorrow's massive qualifier in Zilina.

The 21-strong Ireland panel flew out to Slovakia this morning minus the injured Wolves striker Kevin Doyle, and the other other change was a late call-up for Ipswich 'keeper Brian Murphy in place of Keiren Westwood, who picked up a facial injury in training yesterday.

But the three-hour flight will offer Irish players some more time to mull over Friday's disastrous defeat at home to Russia.

It's not quite a player revolt, but senior members of the panel are unhappy with Ireland's one-dimensional approach against Russia and with the failure of the manager to react quicker to the 3-0 deficit.

Aiden McGeady said after the game that Ireland only looked like a threat when the formation moved to a 4-3-3 system and said "maybe it could have been done a bit sooner", while Richard Dunne, one of the most senior players in the squad, was even more critical.

"We're never going to control games if we play like that. We've got to put our foot on the ball at some stage and string five or six passes together and create chances that way rather than from set-pieces or long balls all the time," Dunne said after the game.

But instead of accepting Dunne's point, or even his right to express a view as a player with 62 caps to his credit, Tardelli yesterday seemed to suggest that Dunne should keep his views to himself.

"I don't know if Richard said that, but Richard spoke after the match and, after the match, it's better to say nothing," Tardelli told the media after training.

"Richard knows we have some players who don't play for their clubs, now we have many problems with injury - Damien Duff is out, so is Stephen Hunt.

"Sometimes it's possible to create play and sometimes not, because we are against a good team.

"You remember against France we played the long ball, but we also took the ball in midfield because we have experienced players. Things have changed but this team is growing.

"Sometimes it's possible to play, sometimes you play the long ball, but you can't start from the back because if the opposition," said Tardelli, adding that he expects Dunne to be fit for tomorrow's clash.

Ireland train in the match stadium in Zilina tonight and Trapattoni is expected to name his starting XI later this evening.

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