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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019

Ireland may look to Stokes to man-mark Özil

Stokes “well capable” of tracking Arsenal assist king, says interim manager Noel King.

Stokes, right, and Andy Reid: both could feature in Cologne on Friday.
Stokes, right, and Andy Reid: both could feature in Cologne on Friday.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

ANTHONY STOKES COULD be the man asked to keep Germany’s playmaking star Mesut Özil quiet on Friday night.

Stokes was praised when he did a similar job tracking Sergio Busquets in Celtic’s Champions League clash with Barcelona last week.

Now interim Ireland manager Noel King has to decide if he is the best man to stifle Özil’s creativity in the World Cup qualifier in Cologne.

“I think he did very well,” King said on Stokes’ performance in that more defensive role.

“It’s a combination of players and a combination of positions. I’m not trying to hide, I don’t know what the 11 is yet.

“He’s a capable player, he’s well capable of doing that type of job, no question.”

The early indications are that Ireland will start with one striker up front in a variation on either 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1.

Anthony Pilkington, Kevin Doyle and Joey O’Brien were the only three players to sit out training in Malahide this afternoon, though all 23 of King’s squad are expected to take a full and active part tomorrow before flying out to Germany.

“The numbers are very fancy,” King said when asked about his formation options, “but when you don’t have the ball and players go into areas that they’re not supposed to be in, you have to deal with that and you have to manage that.

“It’s just starting positions that we’re really working on. You have to defend and you have to attack and you have to try and counter and present counters. That’s the game. That’s what we’ve been preparing for all week.”

King invites five Airtricity League players to train with Ireland squad

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Niall Kelly

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