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'From the squad last week we have 11 injuries' - Pauw's Ireland decimated, but opportunity within

The Girls In Green face Australia in an international friendly tomorrow night.

Vera Pauw with her squad at training this evening.
Vera Pauw with her squad at training this evening.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Updated Sep 20th 2021, 9:34 PM

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND boss Vera Pauw says she will play her strongest possible team and use some newcomers in tomorrow night’s international friendly against Australia, having been left decimated by injury and other issues.

The Girls In Green face a massive test at Tallaght Stadium [KO 7pm, live on RTÉ 2] as they look to halt their seven-game losing streak with preparations for the 2023 World Cup qualifying campaign wrapping up.

Asked if she had a full squad at this evening’s pre-match press conference, Pauw said: “I wish… from the squad last week we have 11 injuries.”

Aston Villa midfielder Ruesha Littlejohn was the big withdrawal this afternoon due to a foot problem, joining a lengthy injury list.

Three defenders — Keeva Keenan, Megan Campbell and Claire O’Riordan — were unavailable for selection due to serious ankle setbacks, while Éabha O’Mahony is absent with a knee injury.

Roma McLaughlin and Megan Connolly were also pulled from the squad last week, while doubts now hang over Grace Moloney’s inclusion; the Reading goalkeeper dealing with illness this week.

The Dutch coach said it was difficult to lose such a number of players, but positives can arise from the situation.

“Yes, of course,” she nodded, “but on the other hand, it gives others the opportunity to gain experience and to see some faces whom we otherwise would not have seen.

“So you can hang on the fact that they are not here but most of them will not be here next month either. So it’s fantastic that we have this game and that they have this game to experience the pressure of this level.”

After a recent string of positive developments off the pitch – namely, equal pay and Sky coming on board as the first-ever primary sponsor of the women’s team – it’s now about delivering on it, and producing results.

That may be easier said than done, though, with a tricky World Cup qualifying campaign following tomorrow night’s clash.

The Matildas are ranked 11th in the world and reached the semi-finals of the recent Olympic Games in Tokyo (Ireland are 33rd, and yet to reach a major tournament).

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Chelsea superstar Sam Kerr captains Tony Gustavsson’s side, and is set to earn her 100th cap in Dublin.

“It will be very difficult, very difficult,” Pauw added. “We will try to stop them going forward and not make too many mistakes in our build up because that is their biggest strength, that they can steal the ball off you around your box immediately, with [Sam] Kerr and a few new players.

“Pace forward, pressure forward in their transition, pressure on our goal, that is what they will show, with lots of individual quality.”

Fans return to see Pauw’s side in Tallaght after a lengthy absence amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, with capacity set at 4,000 and tickets pretty much sold out as of Monday evening.

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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