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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 September, 2018
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Trap tries 4-4-1-1... and if it works, he wants to use it against Sweden

Wes Hoolahan has a chance to impress when he starts behind Shane Long in Cardiff tomorrow night.

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

WITH NOTHING TO lose and everything to gain, Giovanni Trapattoni hopes that his tactical tinkering will give Ireland the key to unlock Sweden next month.

Instead of rehashing his tried and trusted 4-4-2, Trap has changed things up for tomorrow evening’s friendly against Wales and named a team which sees Shane Long flying solo up front.

The switch to 4-4-1-1 allows Wes Hoolahan to start in his preferred position behind the striker, where he will be hoping to emulate the star turn he showed on his first competitive start against the Faroe Islands in June.

Jon Walters and Robbie Brady provide the width, the latter chosen ahead of James McClean to take the total number of Premier League players in the starting XI to 10. (James McCarthy, who may not be McClean’s team-mate at Wigan for much longer, is the only Championship representative.)

It’s the strongest side at Trap’s disposal and with just over three weeks to go until the crunch qualification double-header against Sweden and Austria, the Italian insists that he will be watching with an open mind.

If the system works, he may well stick with it when Sweden visit Dublin on 6 September.

What that means for regular skipper and leading goalscorer Robbie Keane, who is not involved this week, is anyone’s guess.

“We can have the same offensive things,” Trapattoni said of the decision to go with one up front and he highlighted Brady as “a more creative, offensive player” than McClean.

Also, one more in midfield because Wes can work in midfield. We don’t forget his pass for the goal in the last game [Keane's opening goal v the Faroes]. He can work in midfield and also have the last pass for a goal.

The idea, he stressed, will be for Walters and Brady to push on and ideally get themselves into positions where they can threaten the Welsh goal.

“We have no habit. In Italy we have many teams play with 4-3-3… we don’t have this habit but I have the possibility to do this.

I think with Hoolahan, he is also support for Long, and we have Walters and Brady. I have to force Walters and Brady to go towards goal. The potential is for one, two, three or four [goalscorers].

He added: “This is a friendly but it’s not a friendly.

“After this we can reflect on our behaviour, our attitude, our personality and if we can play [like this] against Sweden or not. We can also play the other system.”

Republic of Ireland (v Wales): Keiren Westwood; Seamus Coleman, Ciaran Clark, John O’Shea, Marc Wilson; Jon Walters, James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan, Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan; Shane Long.

Audio courtesy of 98FM.

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Coleman: Wales need to be like Big Jack’s Ireland

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Niall Kelly

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