Ireland fully focused on Faroes
Richard Dunne rested, as Marc Wilson and David Forde continue recoveries
Jeff Hendrick and Wes Hoolahan at Malahide today. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Marco Tardelli insists the Republic of Ireland players are fully focused on their World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands after a creditable draw at Wembley last week and a convincing win over Georgia on Sunday.
Ireland will host the Faroes on Friday evening with three precious qualification points at stake, knowing they can afford no slip-up if they are to keep alive dreams of making it to next summer’s finals in Brazil.
They will head into the clash with the Group C strugglers brimming with confidence after a 1-1 draw against England and a comprehensive 4-0 dismissal of 10-man Georgia.
“England was very important, but the big match is Ireland v the Faroes as it’s a match to qualify for Brazil,” said assistant manager Tardelli today. “We need to forget the matches against England and Georgia and focus on this match. But the players have worked very hard in training and are thinking of this match.”
Both Tardelli and manager Giovanni Trapattoni would settle for a repeat of Sunday’s performance against Georgia in which the Republic overwhelmed Temuri Ketsbaia’s side in the wake of keeper Giorgi Loria’s 20th-minute dismissal.
However, the Faroes initially proved tough to break down in the reverse fixture in Torshavn last October, before Ireland ran out 4-1 victors, and Tardelli is expecting another difficult test.
“We want to play the same, but we have different opponents,” he said. “Against the Faroes, we need to take the ball and play the ball - we need players with this quality. It’s possible to play like we did against Georgia, but sometimes it is difficult.”
Mood within the camp is high. The players went through their paces in glorious sunshine in Malahide this morning, though central defender Richard Dunne sat out the session as a precaution after playing his first football for a year as a second-half substitute against Georgia. Goalkeeper David Forde and full-back Marc Wilson trained in the gym as they continued their recovery from knee and hamstring problems respectively.
“Richard is here with us and he has recovered well,” said Tardelli. “I think it is possible that he plays against the Faroes or against Spain. But today, he was rested and it’s good for him to be here. Today he was rested because he played the first important match after one year and it’s normal to rest.
“Wilson had a little problem when he arrived here, and now we want to let him rest for one day and then he is okay. Also Forde.”
Much of the talk over the last week or so has been about Trapattoni’s young players, but one of his senior statesmen will take centre-stage on Friday.
Captain Robbie Keane (32) will set a new record when he wins his 126th cap on Friday. Ireland’s record goalscorer with 56 goals remains an enduring threat.
“For us, he’s very important,” said the Italian. “Against Georgia when he came on the pitch, the team changed. The team knows he has good experience and knows he is always there when they need him, and that is very important.
“What he has done in his career shows what a good player he is. He is good for football and the Irish team.”