Selecting Ireland team a ‘nightmare’ for Noel King
Wes Hoolahan and Andy Reid, the two most creative midfielders – both traditionally crowd favourites – are unlikely to feature together
Interim manager Noel King enjoying the spotlight in Malahide. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Noel King says that selecting the Republic of Ireland team to face Kazakhstan tomorrow night will be a far more challenging task than doing so in Germany over the weekend, with the Dubliner admitting he will find it difficult to accommodate players returning from injury or suspensions as well as those who will feel they deserve an opportunity while also rewarding those who did well in Cologne.
With Ireland needing to win in order to maintain their hopes of winning a four-way race with Slovenia, Romania and Turkey for a second seeding in the qualifying stages for Euro2016, the Dubliner – who apparently was not aware of the seeding situation after being told by the association these games would not count towards France – said that he will retain the basic 4-2-3-1 system employed in Germany but that there will be changes even if he has not quite settled on what they are likely to be.
Robbie Keane, Richard Dunne and John O’Shea should all be back although the Irish skipper remains a doubt with the ankle problem that sidelined him on Friday night. The interim manager says that a decision on the striker’s fitness is likely to be taken at training in the Aviva Stadium late this afternoon but that he will not name his starting line-up until tomorrow morning.
“This is much tougher; this is a nightmare,” he said yesterday. “Not because there is an expectation to win, although I understand that, but just in terms of picking a team to play the best way possible bearing in mind Kazakhstan and the threat they offer to us . . . and they do offer a threat, a huge threat.”
Asked whether he needed to change the system in order to get the Irish team on to the front foot this time, he pointed the Joachim Löw’s side as an example of just how versatile the formation is. “I think Germany played it and they were an example of how the game can be played in an attacking way.
“Sometimes the game dictates what happens but you can use it as a starting base and then, as the game goes on, see for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with playing that way, though, regardless of whether you’re setting out to attack or defend; that’s the way the game is moving.”
Precisely who fills in where remains to be seen, however, with the likes of Shane Long, Wes Hoolahan and Andy Reid adding to the pressure on King, who did say, however, that the two creative midfielders, both traditionally crowd favourites, are unlikely to feature together.