Anthony Pilkington and Paul Green to start in Austria
Keane says Ireland have not got the players to play another way and describes ‘Plan B’ talk as ‘crap’
Republic of Ireland midfielder Anthony Pilkington will start for the first time against Austria. Photograph: Kieran Murray/Inpho
Giovanni Trapattoni has made two changes to his side ahead of the win-or-bust World Cup qualifier against Austria in Vienna tomorrow.
James McClean has been benched to allow Anthony Pilkington start for the first time after his late introduction during the 2-1 defeat to Sweden in Dublin last Friday.
Pilkington, Trapattoni says, can be “a beautiful surprise”. The Italian added: “He can give us something a little different, create different chances for the team.”
In the absence of Glenn Whelan, who has returned to Stoke City with a hamstring injury, Leeds United’s Paul Green will play alongside Everton’s James McCarthy in central midfield.
Jon Walters (ankle) and Shane Long (dead leg) retain their places in the starting line-up after shaking off injuries.
Trapattoni explained he opted for Green rather than Wes Hoolahan, because the balance of the side would be disrupted.
“As I’ve already said, we can’t play with four or five strikers when we are away and playing against an Austria side that showed in Dublin what a tough game it will be. Wes normally plays behind the striker at his club and we cannot play him with Long, Robbie and Walters.”
Reflecting on the poor performance against Sweden last week, that saw Ireland take the lead through captain Robbie Keane before succumbing to goals in each half from Johann Elmander and Anders Svensson, the manager admitted in the second half his side “had no direction” and added: “The world was on our shoulders and we sank. But yesterday I saw the players’ enthusiasm and strength return.”
He again reiterated his opinion that he has strengthened the team in his time as Ireland manager.
“Every team I have had I have improved the players, their play on the ball, their movement off it but it’s impossible to work with them properly when you get the players in a day or two before the game and half the time you have to let them rest because they are tired.”
Keane backed his manager, insisting training since defeat in Dublin has been intense, and that talk of Ireland needing an alternative tactical plan is “crap”.
“The first few hours after a defeat are the hardest,” said the striker, “once you get a few hours sleep you realise that that’s the great thing about football, it always gives you another chance. And I think if you’d seen the training sessions yesterday then you’d appreciate that that’s the way the lads are thinking now.
“People always talk about a Plan A and a Plan B and crap like that but we’ve never had a Plan B, not in my time. We haven’t had the players to get the ball down and play like Spain with 80 per cent possession, we’ve always played exactly the same way.”
Ireland must win the tie to have any hope of finishing second in Group C behind Germany, but even then they will need results to go their way elsewhere.
Rep of Ireland: Forde, Coleman, O’Shea, Dunne, Wilson; Walters, Green, McCarthy, Pilkington; Keane (captain), Long