Australia eager their finest soccer export has a night to cherish in Tallaght

Defeat on Tuesday night would be the eighth in succession for Vera Pauw’s Ireland team

Sam Kerr goes hunting international goal number 49 against Ireland on Tuesday night. Photograph: Tim Clayton/Getty Images

Sam Kerr goes hunting international goal number 49 against Ireland on Tuesday night. Photograph: Tim Clayton/Getty Images

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International friendly - Republic of Ireland v Australia; Tallaght stadium, 7pm (live RTÉ 2)

A game that should belong to Sam Kerr. The prolific Chelsea striker enters the rarefied atmosphere of 100 caps and while the Matildas are shorn six key players that drove them to the precipice of an Olympic medal in Tokyo - losing out to Ireland’s opening World Cup qualifier opponents Sweden in the semi-final - the side Tony Gustavsson’s sends onto the Tallaght carpet is motivated to ensure that Australia’s finest soccer export has a night to cherish.

“She is not just a phenomenal and world class footballer she is a phenomenal and world class person as well,” said Gustavsson. “Her influence to this team on and off the pitch can’t be described in words.

“After training I did say this will be her 100th game and a game she will remember for the rest of her life and we as a team want to give her the best memory possible. We want to play for our captain, extra much, tomorrow.”

Kerr goes hunting international goal number 49, unlike last Thursday’s behind closed doors match in Abbotstown when she was rested for a 75-minute contest that Ireland won 2-1.

Gustavsson also paid tribute to the only Irish players to earn the right to be mentioned in the same general conversation as Kerr, having seen plenty of Denise O’Sullivan at North Carolina Courage during his time as USA assistant manager and Katie McCabe while tracking the Australians at Arsenal.

Vision

“Gosh, she can run,” the Swede said of O’Sullivan. “She can run a lot and also run with the ball fast. Definitely an attacking midfielder but we will see how they use her but that is the attacking midfielder we need to watch out for.

“Obviously McCabe, look at her left foot and her understanding of the game. We will see where they use her but her crosses and her vision from that left side we really need to be aware of. She has a phenomenal left foot.”

Despite having such rare attacking traits in Irish footballers, O’Sullivan the holding midfielder and McCabe the defensive minded wing back tends to become their roles against elite nations. But if the Vera Pauw era is to halt its descent into ignominy - defeat on Tuesday night would be the eighth in succession - O’Sullivan and McCabe must feature at the heart of each attacking plot.

As the summer camp to Iceland reminded onlookers, opponents kick McCabe early and regularly. Injury to either blunts the Irish blade.

A constant worry for Pauw is that McCabe has more international goals (10) than the nine forwards included in this squad. Lucy Quinn could alter that stat overnight as the 27 year-old finally made use of her Sligo roots, after an administrative hellscape to get the Birmingham City striker an Irish passport, to lead the line on her debut and for the upcoming World Cup campaign.

“She really, really feels that she wants it, she wants to play for Ireland,” said Pauw. “When you see her in the group, she is amazing.

“Everybody who follows the [English super league] knows her. Definitely, she will bring the level of the WSL into the squad. That in itself is already a boost for us.”

Never has a team needed a natural goal scorer more.

“We are getting closer and closer as you have all seen, we are getting better and better, and the moment will be there that it turns around,” Pauw clicks her fingers for effect, “and we score the goals.”

That might not be tonight against these high pressing Matildas as Galway defender Savannah McCarthy will win her first cap under the Dutch manager due to the loss of three defenders - Megan Campbell, Keeva Keenan and Claire O’Riordan - all to broken ankles.

Rep of Ireland (possible): Brosnan; O’Gorman, Fahey, Louise Quinn, McCarthy; Finn, O’Sullivan, Barrett; Payne, Lucy Quinn, McCabe.

Squads

Republic of Ireland

Goalkeepers: Grace Moloney (Reading), Courtney Brosnan (Everton), Eve Badana (DLR Waves)

Defenders: Harriet Scott (Birmingham City), Niamh Fahey (Liverpool), Diane Caldwell (North Carolina Courage), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Claire Walsh (Glasgow City), Savannah McCarthy (Galway WFC), Áine O’Gorman (Peamount United), Isibeal Atkinson (Celtic)

Midfielders: Denise O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), Jamie Finn (Birmingham City), Ciara Grant (Shelbourne), Niamh Farrelly (Glasgow City), Aoibheann Clancy (Wexford Youths), Jess Ziu (Shelbourne), Katie McCabe (Arsenal)

Forwards: Heather Payne (Florida State University), Rianna Jarrett (London City Lionesses), Amber Barrett (FC Koln), Kyra Carusa (HB Hoge), Clare Shine (Glasgow City), Emily Whelan (Birmingham City), Saoirse Noonan (Shelbourne), Leanne Kiernan (Liverpool), Lucy Quinn (Birmingham City).

Australia

Goalkeepers: Lydia Williams (Arsenal), Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham United), Teagan Micah (Rosengard)

Defenders: Angela Beard (Fortuna Hjorring), Ellie Carpenter (Lyon), Steph Catley (Arsenal), Charlotte Grant (Rosengard), Emma Checker (Melbourne City), Winonah Heatly (Vaxjo), Alanna Kennedy (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Jenna McCormick (Vittsjo GIK), Jamila Rankin (Brisbane Roar), Tameka Yallop (West Ham United), Kyra Cooney-Cross (Melbourne Victory), Amy Harrison (PSV Eindhoven), Chloe Logarzo (Kansas City), Emily van Egmond (Unattached)

Forwards: Mary Fowler (Montpellier), Emily Gielnik (Aston Villa), Sam Kerr (Chelsea), Hayley Raso (Manchester City), Kyah Simon (Tottenham Hotspur), Remy Siemsen (Sydney FC) .

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