Much is being made of the high-quality players that England possess ahead of tonight’s tie with Ireland at Wembley later on this evening and rightly so.
In truth, they do possess a wealth of talent that overshadows the Irish squad in terms of its European experience and domestic success. With the likes of Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Theo Walcott all likely to start tonight’s friendly for the Three Lions, it looks as though the Irish could be in for a very challenging night.
Nonetheless, it is of paramount importance for the Irish side to draw upon the experience and verve that we do possess. Wigan Athletic midfielder, James McCarthy is an F.A Cup winner who is definitive proof that success comes in surprising packages. The 22 year-old central midfielder helped his side to overcome Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City in the final at none other than Wembley, and in doing so, may well have given his national side the boost in confidence they need ahead of the game.
Of course, while on paper, Roy Hodgson’s side have a much stronger side in terms of individuals, it has always been the modus operandi of the Irish to consolidate pure talent with tremendous effort, clever tactics and sheer self-belief. With James McCarthy, if ever proof was needed, Giovanni Trapattoni has a player who could really help to re-affirm that self-confidence once again.
He is, obviously, not the only player who could help turn the tide later this evening, as record goal-scorer Robbie Keane, who continues to be written off by certain sections of the media will also be looking to produce the goods for his side later this evening.
The pivotal factor about tonight’s game for Il Trap and company will be, not how they measure up to England in terms of records broken, cups won or goals scored, but in terms of their focus, effort and determination.
Although tonight’s match is only a friendly, it is sure to be a closely contested, hard-fought encounter between two sides eager to build up steam ahead of their respective upcoming qualifying matches.