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'If we played her, we could destroy her career' - Ireland forced to plan without West Ham star

Vera Pauw’s Girls In Green face Germany tomorrow night in a last-ditch bid to salvage a Euro 2022 play-off spot.

Ireland's Leanne Kiernan in training this week.
Ireland's Leanne Kiernan in training this week.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IRELAND BOSS VERA Pauw has been forced to plan without Leanne Kiernan for tomorrow night’s crunch Euro 2022 qualifier against Germany.

The West Ham attacker is ruled out with a hamstring issue, and this comes as hugely disappointing news considering her impact against the group winners in the away tie, which the Girls In Green lost 3-0.

While 21-year-old Kiernan was an unused substitute in the Ukraine defeat, the Cavan star has come into excellent club form in recent weeks, scoring a brace for the Hammers in their Continental Cup win over Charlton. 

It comes as a disappointing blow for Kiernan and for Ireland, whose qualification hopes hang by a thread and need a win against Germany at Tallaght Stadium [KO 5pm, live on RTÉ Two] if they are to reach the play-offs.

“We have now confirmed Leanne Kiernan had to leave the camp,” Pauw told the media this morning. “She left yesterday with a niggle in her hamstring.

“It’s not yet a big injury. But we are sure if we played her, we could destroy her career because it could rupture and scar her hamstring for the rest of her career. And I’m not the kind of coach who wishes to take those kinds of risks with her players.

I see myself to help the players to go above their level but not use and abuse players for my own good. The risk is far too big, even in a game like this and I don’t want to threaten her career. Even if it it were a World Cup final, I would not have played her.”

Ireland will also be without defender Megan Campbell, who sustained a knock in training after coming back from her latest long-term injury.

The Manchester City long-throw specialist will be watching on from afar as Ireland do battle with the world’s second-ranked nation, who boast a 100% record in this campaign, scoring 37 goals and conceding zero.

“Megan came in late and it was discussed she might come in for the last bit of the game for her throw if she had had a good week in training,” Pauw added.

“But she had a setback after the first normal training session. So also, with all her injury background, we could have destroyed her. So we have communicated with Man City very much and together we thought it was the best thing.”

vera-pauw Vera Pauw. Source: Aleksandar Djorovic/INPHO

Dutch boss Pauw, who made history in charge of her native country by leading them to the semi-finals of the 2009 European Championships, says this is one of the biggest tests of her career.

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“It’s on the same level,” she said. “I’ve had other teams that were growing on the verge of doing something special. I would say it’s the biggest task, yeah, because of the difference between Germany and us where we are at this moment.

“I’m a very realistic coach and that is why I’m known as someone who can pull a squad to perform at a level they haven’t been before. If you are looking for all kinds of tricks, you are digging your own grave. We are facing a big task but we’ll be ready to try to handle it.”

Having stated before that Germany are the best side in women’s football worldwide, despite the US winning the most recent World Cup, Pauw doubled down on that stance, though shared plenty of belief in her own side’s chances.

“They’re not vulnerable but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a game-plan. They will be at full strength against us. That is a compliment for us, but that is the harsh fact that we need to deal with.

“We will do everything we can to get a result but if we don’t, I hope we show Ireland we have done everything we can within our capacity and we have done everything to make the country proud and make our fans proud.

“We have players that can do something special,” she added. “If it’s enough to beat Germany, we can see tomorrow. We’ll only know after the game.”

Pauw also hit out at the delay in receiving Covid-19 test results and revealed hopes to narrow the pitch at Tallaght Stadium, with another piece to follow on The42 in the coming minutes.

Screenshot 2020-11-24 at 9.04.07 AM

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Emma Duffy

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