Jon Walters likely to start against Spain
Stoke City striker Jonathan Walters looks set to partner Robbie Keane in attack as the Republic of Ireland try to resurrect their Euro 2012 campaign against Spain on Thursday.
Kevin Doyle did well alongside Keane in the 3-1 defeat to Croatia, but Giovanni Trapattoni has hinted that he may change things against the World Champions at Gdansk. “Jonathan has shown us that with his physical strength the way he can help both the strikers and the midfield,” Trapattoni told reporters. “Spain are technically superior on the pitch and maybe I can change things to react to them, not because of the performances in the first game.
“Maybe, after reflection, I can maybe change one player. But it would be out of necessity because of Spain’s superior technique not because the player replaced has performed badly. We can adapt ourselves with players we have. Remember [Andy] Keogh against Italy? The idea is that the second striker can also help midfield. So we just use somebody differently. Maybe Jonathan can show us this situation. His physical strength is a factor. That is one idea. But there are also others who can do the double job. For example. Cox is one who can help. I will think more about what is the best option.”
However, Trapattoni is unlikely to drop record goalscorer Keane, despite the Los Angeles Galaxy forward disappointing on Sunday. “Keane is a very important player for us,” said Trapattoni. “Not only is he our captain but he has personality, gives us time on the ball and the opponent has respect for him. Robbie plays with experience. He thinks about what happens. Also in this situation we need strength. We know this.”
The Ireland manager is positive his side can cause an upset, and told his players that they can beat Spain. “I reminded them of what they did to achieve this qualification and also how well they have played against important teams, like Italy,” he said. “I reminded them we deserved to achieve this qualification. We have the good quality, our quality. Maybe we don’t have the creativity of other teams but we are here in the Euros with our qualities.
“We must continue to believe because no one team is always superior to another. In 90 minutes anything can happen. I have to give them the opportunity for redemption now. Of course, they are disappointed but they have to believe. We must think about this. We have 90 minutes and 90 minutes still to play. And usually our team plays its best against the famous teams.”