King backs Ireland to take opportunities in Cologne
Interim boss says 6-1 defeat in Dublin is history now
Republic of Ireland interim manager Noel King shares a laugh with midfielder Andy Reid during training at Gannon park in Malahide on Tuesday. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Noel King will send his side out against Germany under orders to do whatever it takes to secure a famous victory.
The interim Republic of Ireland manager, like the departed Giovanni Trapattoni, admits he does not have the same riches at his disposal as Joachim Loew, his opposite number in Cologne on Friday evening.
However, that does not mean he is prepared to concede that the Group C leaders cannot be beaten.
Asked if he would adopt a similar approach to those used by Chelsea and Celtic to frustrate Barcelona in the Champions League, King said: “Each game is different.
“You don’t know how the games flow, you really don’t know and you just have to be ready.
“If there’s an opportunity to go at them, if there’s an opportunity to keep the ball and go at them or if you are forced to defend, you have to do what you have to do to try to win the game.
“We are not the strongest football nation in the world, so sometimes we can’t play the way we want to play.
“But there’s a game to be fought for, there are points to be won and we will do whatever possible that we think is the right thing to try to get the win.”
King expects all 23 members of his squad to train in Malahide on Wednesday morning before their afternoon flight to Germany, with Joey O’Brien, Anthony Pilkington and Kevin Doyle having sat out Tuesday afternoon’s session as a precaution.
By contrast, Loew has been hit by a spate of injuries, the latest of which have seen Marco Reus and twins Sven and Lars Bender added to the casualty list, although the Ireland boss knows only too well the pool of players his counterpart has to call upon having seen his under-21s side beaten 4-0 at home in a European Championship qualifier by their German counterparts last month.
King said: “I have just played the under-21s last month and even that German team would give us a game, so there is strength in depth.
“I don’t get caught up with the names, I get caught up with where they are going to be on the park, the shirts and how we handle that.”
He said: “Strikers and names mean nothing, they really don’t. They have a system that they play to.
“They slip in and out of positions, they drop off the front line, they don’t play centre forwards during the game, their wide players become central midfield players – this is the chaos that they create.
“They have wonderful players, they are able to keep the ball as well, and that’s the task we are facing.
“We will have to defend, for sure, but hopefully we will still be able to attack when we get the opportunity to do it and hopefully more attacking than maybe many people expect.”
Skipper Robbie Keane trained with his team-mates for the first time on Tuesday following his arrival from the United States amid speculation that King could opt to field just one striker in front of a five-man midfield at the Rhein Energie Stadion.
However, King was giving little away when asked if the LA Galaxy frontman could operate as a lone striker, something Trapattoni believed the 33-year-old could not do.
He said: “He can certainly do it; Anthony Stokes can do it; there are other players in the group who could possibly do it as well – Kevin Doyle could maybe do it.
“They can all play there, but it’s trying to get the balance right against the Germans and that’s what we are working on.”
The two sides last met in Dublin in October last year and no Irishman needs any reminder of what happened that night as a home side famed for its resilience under Trapattoni capitulated horrifically and was thumped 6-1.
However, King is adamant that a black night in Irish football, which very nearly cost the Italian his job at the time, is irrelevant to this week’s events.
He said: “The 6-1 is nothing to do with this. This is a new game, it’s a new group with some new players and obviously some players hanging over.
“But you can’t dwell on the past, you really can’t dwell on the past. We have been working towards the future, that’s the way we are facing it.”