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Irish boss Pauw wants fixture rethink

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Vera Pauw

Vera Pauw

SPORTSFILE

Vera Pauw

Vera Pauw admits that Covid-19 is a major concern ahead of the rest of the disrupted qualifying campaign for the European Championship finals, in particular a proposed game away to Ukraine in October.

And the manager of the Rep of Ireland women's senior team wants the his side's three remaining games between September and December, two of them away from home in countries not currently on the Irish government's green list for travel, to be played in a bubble in February along the lines of the recently-concluded Champions League and Europa League.

If the challenge of playing in 20 days' time away to a German side who have dropped points in a Euro qualifier just once in the last 19 years was not enough, Irish preparations for that game have been hampered.

The Ireland squad cannot assemble in Dublin before the game but will instead meet up in Germany, though there remains an issue over how Australian-based Julie-Ann Russell can travel to play and then be allowed to return to her Sydney base, the FAI is in talks with the Australian embassy in Dublin as well as Russell's employer in an attempt to find a way.

Pauw, who admits that beating Germany is an impossible task and has her focus on securing second place in the group, is concerned about travel issues over the qualifier away to Ukraine on October 23, Ireland seeing out the group at home to Germany on December 1st.

"The game is to be played in Kiev, which has the highest infection rate at the moment. So I don't understand why that hasn't been taken in (to account) because flights and accommodation need to be booked, and how are we going to do that?" Pauw said after announcing her squad for the game away to Germany.

"Luckily so far we've had no issues regarding going to Germany, which is one of the safest places at the moment to go to.

"With Ukraine, UEFA only want to focus on the September game first and then look at Ukraine but we, as a national association, would like to see it as three games together.

"If players need to go back and go into quarantine, they come out of that and a week later they have to come back. I have explained the practicalities to UEFA, because if you don't take the Ukraine and Germany games together you will get the problems later that you have to face now. Out of nine weeks, six weeks in quarantine is something that you can't do.

"In February we have a friendly window and, like the Champions League, I think we should create a bubble and play all the games then so that all the teams are there, and everybody is on the same sheet."