©INPHO/Donall Farmer
Change It Up

McCarthy’s inclusion gives me freedom to experiment, says Trapattoni

The Republic of Ireland boss has indicated that he will not necessarily stick to 4-4-2 when using the Wigan midfielder.

IRISH FOOTBALL FANS aren’t the only ones delighted to see James McCarthy finally included in the senior Republic of Ireland set-up.

If the evidence of this afternoon’s pre-match press conference is anything to go by, the manager is quiet pleased too.

After months of rumour and speculation, the Wigan midfielder will prove to even the most stubborn doubter that he is committed to the Republic’s cause when he wins his first senior competitive cap at some stage tomorrow evening.

Earlier this week, Giovanni Trapattoni reassured fans that he would not let the opportunity to cap McCarthy slip by, joking that the youngster would get “at least two minutes” against Macedonia.

Thankfully, it seems that the manager’s decision to include McCarthy stems from a sense of desire rather than one of obligation with Trapattoni stating today that the midfielder will allow him to be a bit more flexible in a tactical sense.

The Italian’s tactics have been the source of much discussion again this week with critics claiming that his rigid adherence to a traditional 4-4-2 set-up may not be the most effective.

Heads were turned by the fact this uncertainty appeared to be present inside the camp as well, with Portsmouth midfielder Liam Lawrence passing comment on the system’s inefficency when Ireland played Russia in October.

The first 50 minutes we played 4-4-2 and got the runaround a little bit. When we changed, we nearly got back in the game.

Sometimes it’s done well for us, but I think now a lot of teams are playing with the three in the middle, two wide and one up front.

Although Trapattoni used today’s press conference to underline that both he and the players “must believe in how we play,” he dismissed suggestions that 4-4-2 was the only system he was willing to employ.

After all, as he proudly reminded reporters, he has tried a wide variety of different systems during his 20-year managerial career.

In the next game [against Uruguay on Tuesday], I may try a new system. With McCarthy, we have a player who can do the same things as Stephen Ireland and that gives us some opportunities.

Maybe I’ll decide to play one up front with McCarthy behind, or maybe play 4-3-3.

Republic of Ireland (vs Macedonia): Kieran Westwood; Kevin Foley, Richard Dunne, Darren O’Dea, Kevin Kilbane; Damien Duff, Glenn Whelan, Darron Gibson, Aidan McGeady; Robbie Keane (c), Kevin Doyle.