Monday 23 April 2018

'None of the irish are good enough to play for Wales' - Savage

Robbie Savage
Robbie Savage

Robbie Savage never got to play in a World Cup finals in his time with the Welsh national side.

And while it's highly likely, that should Wales finish in second place in Group D, the poor points return in that group would deny them a place in the play-offs for Russia 2018, Savage is confident that momentum is fully behind Chris Coleman's side, and not that of Martin O'Neill, as qualification heads into the last two games.

A controversial pundit, who took a pop online at local TV critic Eamon Dunphy during Savage's visit to Dublin this week, the former Leicester City man is a staunch defender of Martin O'Neill, is bemused by the fuss over Wes Hoolahan, claims that not one current Irish player (bar the absent Seamus Coleman) is good enough to get into the Welsh side.


He also insists that Wales will do anything but fear Ireland when the Republic head to Cardiff next month, Wales very much at home in the 35,000 capacity Cardiff City Stadium instead of the white elephtant that is the Principality (Millennium) Stadium.

"Cardiff is an amazing atmosphere, the players close to the pitch," says Savage.

"I'm sure they could fill the Principality for the Ireland game, when I played under Mark Hughes we had 75,000 for every game there, the country got behind the team.

"If they played this game at the Principality they would fill it, the Ireland fans would travel in their thousands but I think the 30,000 at the Cardiff City Stadium will be electric and in the big moments Wales produce there.

"The big difference is Wales have got players who can produce in the big moments. Aaron Ramsey scored winning goals in FA Cup finals; Gareth Bale, three European Cups.

"For big moments, big players step up and, unfortunately for Ireland, if you're relying on Wes Hoolahan to go to Cardiff and be the best player on the park, you might go out," added Savage, capped 39 times by Wales.

He admits that the talk in Dublin about Hoolahan confused him. "I don't want this to be about Wes Hoolahan because I respect him. He's done well but if he can pick a pass regularly, I'm sure he'd start for Norwich every game in the Championship," Savage added. "If Ireland are just relying solely on Wes Hoolahan, then what does it say?

"Wales have momentum from the Euros and have a team full of Premier League players and a superstar who can change games.

"Ireland are a group of players, some who don't play regularly in their sides yet Wes Hoolahan is going to change games and if he'd have played you'd have 'won in Georgia' which I find amazing to believe.

"When you narrow it down to the facts and narrow it down to the Irish team, how many of them would get into the Wales or Serbia team starting XI? Coleman would if he was fit," said Savage, also throwing in the name of Shane Duffy.

"Would Robbie Brady get in? Not ahead of Allen, Ramsey, Bale. Would Shane Long get in? I'm not so sure as Robson-Kanu is scoring goals in the Premier League this year.

"Coleman is fantastic player and Ireland have missed him. Momentum is the key thing, and Wales have picked it up at just the right time.

"What they have shown in the last few games is that, unlike Ireland where Wes Hoolahan is the key player, Gareth Bale in the last campaign was unbelievable, almost single handedly got them there, but in the last two games, Ben Woodburn has stepped up, Robson Kanu and Ramsey on Tuesday night."

Next up for Wales is a trip to Georgia, a tough place to get a win as Ireland know as Savage admits that Georgia were better than the Welsh in their draw game in Cardiff.

So who will finish in the top two? "I think both sides have to win both games, four points might not be enough so both need to win both games. I think Ireland will beat Moldova, and if Wales don't win in Georgia, Ireland can go there and try to win the game," he says.

"You can never underestimate a Martin O'Neill side, we (Leicester) played in games where we had no chance but one.

"I look at Ireland and the squad Martin O'Neill has and they are the fourth best team. At the start of the campaign, if you said we could win in Cardiff to finish second I'm sure you'd have taken that," he added.

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