Stand-in skipper gives rallying call11/10/2012 - 17:52:52
When John O’Shea looks around the Republic of Ireland dressing room tomorrow evening, there will be some familiar faces missing.
For the first time in a competitive match since he made his senior international debut against Croatia in August 2001, O’Shea will not see Shay Given, Richard Dunne, Damien Duff or Robbie Keane looking back at him.
Given and Duff announced their retirements from international football in the wake of a disappointing Euro 2012 finals campaign, while Keane joined Dunne on the casualty list this morning when it was confirmed the Achilles injury he aggravated in training earlier this week would prevent him from playing against Germany tomorrow evening.
O’Shea will wear the captain’s armband in Keane’s absence as he wins his 82nd cap, and he admits it will be odd not to be running out alongside any of a quartet of players who for so long have led the fight for their country.
He said: “It’s the way it has happened. It will be four players from the Euros starting the game tomorrow and the rest are, shall we say, younger and the experience is missing.
“But the players that are in there now, some people have been calling for them to be given a chance, so now they have massive chance – and what a way to do it, against Germany if we can get a positive result.
“Obviously, it will be a bit strange, but Robbie still has a chance for the game on Tuesday and I am sure he will be around.
“He will be an important figure with his experience at relaxing people before the game, talking and making sure everyone is focussed on their jobs, so it is just the same.
“Yes, there are some familiar faces missing, but the new blood has to get a chance.”
Keane may have a chance of recovering in time for the second leg of the double-header against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn on Tuesday evening, and Dunne will return in due course having insisted he has no intention of joining Given and Duff on the sidelines just yet.
However, their absence will perhaps be felt more keenly as a result of the injury crisis which has also deprived manager Giovanni Trapattoni of Sean St Ledger, Glenn Whelan, James McClean and Kevin Doyle.
With Dunne and St Ledger unavailable, O’Shea will partner Darren O’Dea in central defence as Everton youngster Seamus Coleman takes over at right-back.
The pair have not played in tandem on too many occasions, but the Sunderland man insisted Ireland would have to be at their best in every department, including the substitutes Trapattoni decides to use, if they are to get anything from the game.
He said: “It is one of those things, the way injuries have come about, that this is the partnership we have for tomorrow – but it will be about the team not just individuals or pairings.
“The players coming on as well, they will be needed if we are going to achieve a result.
“That is how we will get a result. It will be a massive team effort and the substitutions could be vital.”
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