MARCO Tardelli has defended Keith Andrews and Glenn Whelan and refuted any suggestion that Ireland's first choice midfield is lacking when it comes to creativity.
Tardelli's reputation as a hard |tackling defensive midfielder |prompted Jimmy Greaves to suggest that he was responsible for “more scar tissue than the surgeons at Harefield Hospital”, but he was quick to speak up on behalf of the much-criticised midfield double act.
“No, I don't think that Andrews and Whelan are just defensive players. I think they play also and score goals for the Ireland team. It's like me when I played. For some people I was defensive, for others I was |attacking,” he claimed.
Tardelli believes that preparation for tomorrow's tussle with Andorra is progressing well and that the issue of complacency will not be a factor in Andorra.
“No, definitely not. We will start with a high tempo and I think we need to press the Andorran team because we want to win this match,” he said.
“We are confident about this game because I see the players are in very good shape.
“Sure, anything is possible in football but I am confident.”
Tardelli has good memories from Barcelona in 1982 where Italy played second phase group games against Argentina and Brazil and won both. Would he swap it for a win against Andorra – even temporarily?
“I prefer to win the match than think about my memories. Would I swap? Yes, for one day yes,” he laughed.
The Ireland squad spent considerable time working set-pieces on Espanyol's training ground and Tardelli accepts that they will have a big role in the first of two crunch Euro 2012 fixtures.
“We know that Andorra will play against us the way they play against every team in defence. That is normal so we have been working hard at set-pieces,” he added.
Tardelli confirmed that Jon Walters is still waiting for definitive news on a scan on his ankle and that there is still a chance he will link up with the squad. “He's at home because he has the problem with his ankle. He has had a scan and maybe he can come back with us for Tuesday,” he said.