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'We're waiting for answers' - Irish-eligible trio may come into fold for crunch Euro qualifiers

Vera Pauw on the situation regarding three potential newcomers, the ‘honesty’ of the FAI through turbulent times and the relief now.

Ireland manager Vera Pauw.
Ireland manager Vera Pauw.
Image: Brian Reilly-Troy/INPHO

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND WOMEN’S National Team [WNT] manager Vera Pauw could be boosted by the addition of three newcomers who have agreed to declare for the Girls In Green ahead of two crucial Euro 2021 qualifiers.

The FAI is waiting on international clearance for three foreign-based dual nationality players, who could link up with the squad ahead of the visit of Greece to Tallaght Stadium on 5 March.

Pauw announced a provisional 26-strong squad — which will be trimmed to 23 ahead of the Greek rematch – yesterday, but more players are set to come in.

The eligible trio have already secured their Irish passports, but it is not known when their clearance will come through. Pauw would not give other any major details on the situation.

“The deadline is very tight,” the Dutch boss said. “We’re waiting on answers. The passports are in, we’re waiting for answers.

It’s in the final phase. It’s players that are on the edge of coming in, and then we need to see if they’re better again than other players that are coming in.

“For us, it’s very important that Rianna [Jarrett] has played 60 minutes this weekend in an internal, closed-door game, so that gives us hope as well,” Pauw added on the Brighton & Hove Albion striker.

“You can imagine if you’ve got new players coming in and they are better, it’s not just a matter of this three or those three… because then you have an overload on one position and an underload on the other. That is why we have an extended list.”

Pauw confirmed that 17-year-old Shelbourne star Emily Whelan is staying with her age group after an impressive showing in Greece, while recently-recalled Glasgow City striker Clare Shine “could become a key player again.”

Centurion Áine O’Gorman has reversed her retirement decision and is included in the provisional squad, while Manchester City’s Megan Campbell and Celtic defender Keeva Keenan have been ruled out through injury. Stephanie Roche also misses out. 

The 56-year-old has outlined that her side need to win one game and draw the other against runaway Group I leaders Germany, on top of winning all their other games to put themselves in a position to qualify for England 2021 through the play-off route.

“You have to be realistic in your targets and the realistic target is to come second in the group and go for the play-offs,” she said. “We can get more, we will try but if you hang on to those kind of targets you will not get the realistic targets either.”

katie-mccabe-celebrates-scoring-her-sides-first-goal-with-teammates Rianna Jarrett, Denise O'Sullivan and Katie McCabe are three key members of the squad. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Pauw, who took the reins of the WNT in September, right in the middle of the FAI financial crisis, also opened up on the turbulent times she has witnessed.

She’s addressed it with the media from day one, but yesterday, when asked if there was a point where she was concerned that her, and her team’s position, would be threatened, she said:

“From the first talk that I had with the management of the FAI until today, because everyone has been so honest and clear about where we were standing, I’ve never had this feeling of unrest that we couldn’t cope or whatever.

“I knew that we would be in a situation that we cannot do everything that we would like to do, but I know that everybody’s doing everything that we can do and what’s possible.

Nobody is trying to sneak away with anything because everyone is so honest and open and transparent about the situation — which helped of course.

“I’m realistic in that I know we cannot just spend money for spending sake and that’s only a healthy situation in my opinion.”

She is relieved to see the situation improve with the association on steady footing, and has certainly noticed a more positive feeling around FAI HQ.

Everything has been more optimistic since the government backing and rescue package, she concluded.

Everybody’s relieved, that’s true, of course, because salaries can be paid, the basics can be paid and I’m hugely grateful for that.

“The thing is that within that national team, the drive and the will is so big that nothing can stop us. That feeling that I received also from the players when they were calling about things was, ‘Whatever happens, we will be there for Ireland.’ That’s the same feeling that I have. I said, ‘Yes, whatever happens around me, I will be there.’”

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Emma Duffy

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