herald

Friday 19 April 2019

Men from the Rock look to show their steel

Roy Chipolina. Photo: Sportsfile
Roy Chipolina. Photo: Sportsfile

Gibraltar will ask their next generation of players to shrug off their lack of top-level experience and step up to the tough challenge of coping with Mick McCarthy's Ireland outfit tomorrow night.

Their coach Julio Ribas has named a 25-strong squad for the home date with Ireland, the Uruguayan relying heavily on the domestic league. Just seven foreign-based players make his squad, one of those, midfielder Anthony Bardon, playing for a US college out fit, while the six players who line out for English clubs all play in the lower leagues: two play for West Didsbury & Chorlton in the North West Counties League.

When Gibraltar last met Ireland, in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, they had access to players with English league experience like Scott Wiseman, and ex-Manchester United man Danny Higginbotham also appeared for the side.

Ribas now looks to the domestic league, five players alone called up from Lincoln Red Imps, the club who caused Celtic a scare in the Champions League.

Three of the current squad are uncapped but Brad Power, Dayle Coleing and Ethan Jolley hope to make their debuts.

Captain Roy Chipolina is one of the few survivors from their encounters with Ireland in 2014/15 and he feels the side have learned.

"We are Gibraltar and every match at this level will always be one which we are huge underdogs. But this won't stop us from believing," says defender Chipolina, who at 36 is the most experienced player in the squad.

"We know how hard it is to get any positive result. Concentration, discipline and work ethic is needed from the first whistle until the last.

"Many times we have been competing well only to switch off for a short spell and find we have conceded two or three goals but we have improved on this.

"Although we had some very harsh football lessons we are definitely all better players from those experiences. Over the past 18 months the team has settled a little more and we have managed to frustrate various teams on more than one occasion."

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