Tardelli: Doyle's boots can be filled
With Kevin Doyle's absence for Tuesday's key UEFA Euro 2012 qualifier in Slovakia likely, Republic of Ireland assistant manager Marco Tardelli is confident his team have the players to fill the boots of the injured striker.
Doyle has returned to Wolves for treatment on a knee injury, meaning Shane Long, who netted the Republic's second goal in their 3-2 defeat by Russia on Friday, or Andy Keogh will most likely get the nod in Zilina.
Republic manager Giovanni Trapattoni was hopeful yesterday Doyle would be fit but his knee subsequently swelled up. Although the injury is not thought to be serious, Doyle will miss Tuesday's match.
"It's a problem because Kevin Doyle is a very good player for us but we have young players, like Long and like Keogh. They are very good players but without experience." Said Tardelli.
"But I think the young players are ready to play in an important match. Against Russia, Long came on, he played well and scored a goal," Tardelli added.
Much has been made of the Republic's tactics in Friday's defeat, with the hosts relying largely on the long ball while Russia dominated midfield and attacked relentlessly.
Trapattoni's side came back into the match in the final 20 minutes after Doyle was replaced by midfielder Keith Fahey, but Tardelli dismissed suggestions they could start with captain Robbie Keane as a lone striker.
"No, I don't think so. Maybe it's possible to play a young player (as a lone striker) but tomorrow Giovanni will decide," he said.
Dunne and Whelan reflect
Defender Richard Dunne was particularly critical of the Republic's performance against Russia, calling on his team-mates to be braver and have belief in their ability to compete with the best sides.
Midfielders Glenn Whelan and Paul Green had a particularly tough game, with the Stoke man describing Russia as the best opponents he has faced on the international stage. Whelan, though, is hoping the tough experience will prove to be of benefit in Slovakia.
"Me and Paul tried to work really hard without really getting into the game. But these situations are going to pop up many a time and now, come Tuesday, if Slovakia play five in the middle, we know we're going to have to change something." Said Whelan.
"When you're 2-0 down, it's panic stations a little bit," Whelan said of the performance against Russia. "But it's a one-off, we can't let that happen again."
Whelan is one of a number of players - notably goalkeeper Shay Given and Keane - who went into Friday's match short of Premier League action this season.
The 26-year-old, though, insisted that did not affect his performance: "When you're not in the team you're working twice as hard to get in. Unfortunately I've picked up little niggles here and there and can't seem to shake them off."
Trapattoni's men are looking to make a major finals for the first time in a decade, and Whelan believes they can use Friday's disappointment to spur them on against their other big rival.
"I can't remember the last time we got beaten in a qualifying game," said Whelan. "It's not nice and we don't want that to happen again. We have to give a good performance and get rid of Friday night."
Tardelli, though, insists the reaction should not be too negative, particularly as it was the Republic's first group-phase defeat since the Italian duo took charge more than two years ago.
"It's normal that sometimes you lose a match. We lost an important match but we lost against Russia and they are a very good team," said Tardelli.