Alan McLoughlin looks ahead to Russian clash

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Updated: September 5, 2011

SportsNewsIreland caught up with Alan McLoughlin to discuss Ireland’s performance against Slovakia and to look at ahead to the crucial clash with Russia.

I think we can all agree that Friday’s game was something of an anti climax. Two points dropped at home will feel like a defeat for players, management and fan’s however Ireland never got their flow going and didn’t get out of the blocks all evening so on reflection a draw might have been fair.

To win at home you need to attack and create chances, and Ireland didn’t do that, at times our approach play let us down and being honest we often looked more like the away side.

Robbie Keane’s miss was obviously one of the main talking points for a lot of people but it’s hard to rely on just one out and out opportunity to rescue a game.

Slovakia are a good side and they defended well, Keane effort aside I only remember two other moments when we looked like scoring, Damian Duff had a chance in the first half with Simon Cox having an effort in the second half. I think for the Cox chance, he might have been better off passing although you can see why he went for goal too.

Other than that Ireland created very little and after the high’s of the end of season results to draw at home to Slovakia was disappointing.

That said, it not all doom and gloom, we’re second in the group and although I don’t think we’ve blown it yet I think Ireland need to regroup and not lose their focus. While winning the group might be a big ask now, we need to ensure that we don’t lose out on that second spot.

Ireland will head to Russia without John O’Shea and Sean St Ledger and their absence and the doubts over Shay Given will make it very difficult to go out and actually win the game.

Trapattoni will stick with his tried and tested 4-4-2 formation, one bad result won’t make him change it, remember this is a system that has gotten us 14 points and just one defeat to date so we have seen over time the it works for him.

With Shane Long again missing a lot of responsibility will once again rest on the shoulders of Kevin Doyle and Robbie Keane.

Bu this will be a different kind of responsibility, while the expectation against Slovakia might have been to score goals, this time it will be about making life difficult for the Russians although obviously they will try and nick a goal too.

Trapattoni will expect both men to rotate dropping back into midfield to affect the deep lying Russian midfielder as Frank Stapleton and Niall Quinn had done for Jack Charlton away from home many times previously in other campaigns, if we win it back then either one may find themselves with a bit of time and space to try and build or hurt the Russian back four”

In essence this means that we don’t have the ball, it will be almost a 4-5-1 formation

Trapattoni will tell his side to keep it tight at the back and try and frustrate the Russians and hopefully punish them from a set piece. Despite the obvious need for a win Ireland won’t adopt a gung ho approach and he will tell his players to be patient.

One time for sure is that Ireland will probably get fewer chances than they did on Friday and we need to take them when they come.

That for me makes Aiden McGeady a key man for Tuesday, and he must start.

Despite his admittance that he wasn’t match fit coming into the Slovakia game, now that he has 80 odd minutes under his belt he will be better for it and his familiarity with the Russians will help the Irish cause.

I can understand McGeady’s predicament, during my career I must have played in about 40/50 games where I wasn’t fully match but you tell yourself to get on with it. You don’t want to let the managers or the other lads down by saying you don’t feel like your fit for it and the hope is always there that you can get out there and do something. Anyway the only way to get match fit is to play games.

As I’ve said though McGeady will be better now he has gotten some game time and for me he remains one of our most creative players. I am with the majority however that felt Stephen Hunt could have come on a bit earlier on Friday; I thought he did well when he came on, he lifted the team and he will fulfil a similar role on Tuesday if called upon but McGeady brings something different to the team.

The fact that Ireland is the away side and the underdogs will help the players. The level of expectations will be shifted to the Russian players and I think if Ireland can get a draw it would be a good result especially with so many experienced players out. If we did get a win it would rank as one of our best results in the last 10-15 years without a doubt.

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