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Ireland v Greece: Trap the believer knows stakes are high

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is looking to experiment without sacrificing the result in Wednesday night’s friendly against Greece.

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

A FRIENDLY AGAINST Greece might not be the most attractive show in town next week but Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni accepts that this is not just another meaningless international break.

On Wednesday night the stakes are higher.

The balm of time hasn’t soothed the pain of last month’s 6-1 horror show against Germany, and though beating the Faroes stabilised a ship that appeared to be fatally holed below the waterline, Trapattoni knows that the healing is still a work in progress.

The result against Greece is “very, very important,” the Italian explained following the squad’s first training session in Malahide today.

We have two necessities: to put the new players in and watch what happens, but also to watch the result because the result gives trust, enthusiasm and confidence.

With Wes Hoolahan finally in the squad after a seeming eternity in the international wilderness, and with youngsters like James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and Robbie Brady playing themselves into contention for regular starting spots, Trapattoni knows that now is the time for some valuable tinkering.

Two more fringe faces, Millwall’s Andy Keogh and the uncapped Conor Clifford of Chelsea, were called up today to replace the injured Aiden McGeady and Keith Fahey who is suffering from the flu.

Trapattoni added: “There are new players but the team, the FAI, also need a result.”

The fans too need a result.

Five weeks ago, Ireland played in front of a sell-out crowd for the first time in the redeveloped Aviva Stadium. Those who stayed until the bitter end left with their heads bowed but Trapattoni doesn’t expect to bear the brunt of any backlash on Wednesday evening.

Supporters cannot forget that only a handful of this Ireland squad are playing regular first-team football, he explains.

“It would be a surprise for me if it happens. When I meet Irish people, they say ‘Congratulations, congratulations.’ I expect support.

We must not forget our difficulty.

In the Championship, only two or three players play. In the Premier League, two or three.

Maybe another [manager] would change the team, change the players? Jesus Christ would change it and [it would be] a miracle.

Despite last month’s set-back — a double-blow compounded by Sweden’s unlikely draw against Germany in Munich — Trapattoni insists that qualification is still within Ireland’s grasp.

If the result in the Faroes got them back on track, and most likely saved his job, a win on Wednesday against the Euro 2012 quarter-finalists and 12th ranked team in the world would go a long way.

“After this great defeat it is normal for criticism, but we played against the second team in the world and we were missing six or seven players in the squad.

“We could have lost, but not by six goals. It’s a great defeat.

“I repeated to the team today: it’s important that we continue because after this we won in the Faroes. In the Faroes, it was not easy after this great defeat.

I know the team, and I know how the team were 24 hours after this defeat, and I know how the team answered us in training and also in the game [against the Faroes].

We need to continue this confidence and trust because we are only one point behind Sweden.

Why not believe? Why?

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