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Systems analysis: Tactical changes no worries for Walters

If Jonathan Walters is picked in a five-man Irish midfield on Friday, it will be no different to the role he has played at Stoke this season.

JONATHAN WALTERS WILL come armed with experience if asked to play out wide in Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Germany.

Most of Walters’ caps in green have come in a more familiar striker’s role but at club level, Stoke boss Tony Pulis has used the Merseysider as a converted winger in a five-man midfield this season.

A similar 4-5-1 looks set to be Giovanni Trapattoni’s system of choice on Friday night, although indications are that the Italian may opt for Simon Cox ahead of Walters on one wing with Aiden McGeady on the opposite as normal.

Ireland go into the game as massive underdogs and the rumoured changes are not a million miles from the tactics used by Stoke against Premier League big boys like Manchester United or Chelsea, Walters says.

“If that formation is the way we play, it will be similar to how we set up [at Stoke]. You’re going to be defending a lot of the game, but at Stoke we press really really high up to get the ball back in the opposition’s half.

“If you win the ball back on the edge of the opponent’s 18-yard area and force them into mistakes, that’s when you get the chances and get the goals. I think that’s why we’ve started the season successfully at Stoke.”

He added: “I think with the three in midfield, the onus is on keeping the ball and dominating in midfield really. To be honest, that’s what we’ve done at Stoke.

“We’ve kept the ball a lot better and you do get more chances going forward and a lot of runners, if you have willing runners to get in behind and support that lone striker.”

Although Pulis encourages his Stoke side to press and force mistakes high up the pitch, the defensive solidity of a five-man midfield is just as important and the wide men have a key role to play, Walters continues.

“I think it works both ways in that formation. I think if we do press high up the field, the chances are there if they want to take the risks of playing out of the back.

“But if you do lose the ball, the two wide men can retreat with the five-man midfield which makes it very hard and difficult to break down. At Stoke, if you’re playing on the right or left wing, you can always do as a right or left back and have four centre-halves there as well.

“It’s a difficult formation to break down if you get it right.”

If Ireland can get their tactics right and frustrate Germany, Walters seems confident that the visitors will feel the pressure.

“Germany are the favourites, everyone knows that. The pressure’s on them to come here and get the points. Along the way there’s going to be slip-ups.

“Us being at home, we want to get some points on the board. A point would be a good result but at home, we want to go and get the win because Germany away will be a difficult task.”

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