herald

Monday 18 December 2017

'Squad has been cut deep'

Wolves' star insists pain is same for everyone as side bid to end on high

KEVIN DOYLE insists that all of Ireland's players share the pain of the team's failure to deliver at the European Championship finals.

Giovanni Trapattoni has so far stuck with the tried and trusted as a large chunk of his squad -- seven players -- have yet to get even a minute's action while others like Doyle (53 minutes), Shane Long and James McClean (both on the field for just 15 minutes each) have had only a fleeting glimpse of the tournament up close.

Doyle has been shabbily treated by Trapattoni since the squad left their Italian training camp at the start of the month as he was taken off at half time in the friendly against Hungary and then the opening game of the group stages, against Croatia, and was left on the bench for the entire game against Spain.

The Wolves man has been restored to the starting XI for tonight's clash with Italy, a welcome boost for his morale, but Doyle stresses that there's no divide between the players who have played in the two defeats and those who have been left kicking their heels on the bench.

"I have enjoyed the last month, the build-up to the whole thing was great. It's just the last week that's been frustrating for everyone, whether players started or didn't start, we all feel the same," Doyle told the Evening Herald.

"Whoever isn't in the team is keen to play and I'm no different. We came here as a squad and we are united as a squad, there is no sense of players pointing the finger at others. We're in this together.

"I started the first game but didn't play against Spain. It was hard to watch from the bench but I'm sure it was even harder to play in, Spain were so good," added Doyle.

"That's the first time I have seen Spain play in the flesh and they were so good. They're a fantastic side and now I've seen them up close I can see why they have won the World Cup and European Championships.

"I don't think that any other Irish team that would have been on the pitch would have been able to get a result.



FAMINE

"It's frustrating that we didn't get a result this far but we plan to give it all we have against Italy and try to do something. And personally, I want to finish the tournament on a high," added Doyle, the striker hoping to end his goal famine with Ireland as he's drawn a blank in the last five games for the national team.

"We can just try to get something from Italy. We want to do something for ourselves, and for the people who have supported us all along.

"We don't want to go home with zero points. If we can finish third in the group and get above the Italians it would be something. We want to go out of this tournament with a win.

"It's not what we aimed for coming out here, and it won't change things in terms of staying in the tournament, but a win would be something to be proud of," added Doyle.

With instant access to the thoughts from people at home for any player brave enough to enter the world of Twitter or access newspapers online, it's easy for the squad to get a sense of the mood back in Ireland, but Doyle says has no idea if the bunting is still up on the streets back home or has been torn down in frustration.

"I haven't heard much about the reaction back home. All of my family are out here in Poland so I haven't been getting the feedback of what people in Ireland are thinking but I can only imagine that everyone is disappointed, as we are," Doyle said.

"The fans have enjoyed themselves but that's not what it's about, as players we want to win games and advance in the tournament and we haven't done that.

"We wanted to be heading to Ukraine for the quarter-finals in the next few days, not heading home tomorrow."

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