We Can Win The Last Three Qualifiers
Rep of Ireland v Serbia
There were a number of issues that I think Martin O’Neill will address going into the Serbia game.
Wes Must Start Against Serbia
I think there will be personnel changes and I’d love to see Wes Hoolahan playing. I don’t want to jump on any bandwagon that Wes has to start but he’s the only player that’s able to take the ball in tight areas and the lads have got a lot of trust in him when he plays.
Ireland are a different side when Wes Hoolahan does start. We were far too deep to get Shane Long into the game in Georgia, he was almost playing for scraps. We’ve got to figure out a way to get that link from defence, when we’re defending so deep, to attack.
That’s why Wes has to start.
When he does, Ireland look a different side. We’re able to relieve pressure by getting him on to the ball. He’s that link-man between defence and attack.
Glenn Whelan does get a lot of criticism but when he is in the Irish team, it’s almost like a stick to beat Martin O’Neill with that the Villa midfielder shouldn’t be starting. I don’t necessarily see it like that but when we’re playing at home to Serbia I think it’s a chance to leave Whelan out and add Hoolahan to give Ireland a different dynamic offensively.
Big Test Against The Serbs
When the pressure’s on in big games like this, is when we see the true test of the Irish players. You look back at some of these big games in years gone by, we’ve been able to produce a big performance when people have least expected us to – we’ve almost been written off at times.
Now it’s time to batten down the hatches, forget what people are saying, ignore the media’s criticisms about certain players and just get on with it and do your job. There’s a lot of quality in that side and they’ve not necessarily shown it over the last few games. This is one of those performances were they’ve got to defy what the critics have been saying and get your head down and work for your side. This is the sort of match where you want to put in a big performance.
When we played them in Serbia we scored very early – as we’ve done a few times in this group – and dropped deep and allowed the momentum to build against us.
I don’t think Serbia are as good as people are making out.
I don’t see this group being totally dominated by one really, really strong nation.
We know the quality they’ve got in their side with the likes of Matic, Kolarov, Ivanovic – players we’re familiar with from the Premier League. But they’re players that every one of the Irish lads will know all about. Within this Serbia side, they do have quality but we’ll know all about them.
Even Southampton’s Tadic is a very good player, but he’s no better than a lot of the players in the Ireland set-up. They’ve got players we’re more than capable of competing with and beating.
I don’t see them being this great side that many people are fearing coming to Dublin. Of course, they’re better than Georgia who gave us the runaround the other night. But if we get the performance that I know that this side is capable of, we’ll go out and beat Serbia. It’s about getting the right mental approach for it.
We’re always going to miss the likes of Robbie Keane.
Robbie was a talisman for the team over a fifteen-year period, so we don’t have his influence on the squad any more. We don’t have somebody who’s got the ability to take those chances when the team is under pressure. Robbie’s relieved the pressure so often over the years.
Georgia On Our Minds
We don’t have him but looking at the performance the other night there was a lot wrong with it.
We didn’t get down playing. The one thing that was noticeable was the lack of pressure we were putting on the Georgian midfield.
We actually made Georgia look like a really good side
and I actually don’t think they are a really good side.
From an Irish perspective we’ve got ourselves in a bit of a hole after that performance and result in Georgia. But it’s still in our hands, we can still go out and beat Serbia and be optimistic about that. Wales getting that big win against Austria, puts Austria to bed now. So it’s one from three for automatic qualification. First and foremost we need to guarantee that play-off spot, that’s the one thing I’m looking at overall.
If we beat Serbia on Tuesday night, it gives us that belief going into the last two games that we can go there and get the right results.
It’s well within our capabilities to win the last three games, it’s just getting that mindset right.
We hope that Seamus Coleman comes back fully fit, back moving freely and that he’s got the confidence back to his game. We miss his influence over the team and his leadership.
He’s become one of the squad’s main players and we lack certain things when Seamus Coleman hasn’t been playing. Getting him back fit is paramount for the squad, and more importably from a personal point of view for Seamus, as he’s going to be key for Ireland over the next few campaigns.