Martin Seras Lima/INPHO Ruesha Littlejohn is congratulated by Ireland manager Vera Pauw after Wednesday's 2-1 victory against Poland.
Pauw Patrol

Vera Pauw to field 'a completely different team' for Pinatar Cup semi-final

After seeing off Poland earlier this week, Ireland take on Russia tomorrow evening in La Manga.

DESPITE THERE BEING a place in the final at stake, Republic of Ireland manager Vera Pauw intends to make wholesale changes to her line-up for tomorrow evening’s Pinatar Cup clash with Russia in La Manga, Spain (7.30pm Irish time).

The Girls in Green, who are preparing for a World Cup qualifier away to Sweden on 12 April, recorded a 2-1 win against Poland on Wednesday after coming from behind thanks to goals from Lucy Quinn and Louise Quinn.

A victory over Russia – who are ranked 25th in the world, six places ahead of Ireland – will send her team into Tuesday’s tournament decider against Belgium or Wales, but Pauw is remaining focused on the bigger picture.

“They call it a semi-final but let’s not do that,” said the Dutchwoman, whose side will have the consolation of a third-place play-off should they fail to overcome the Russians, who defeated Hungary in a penalty shootout at the quarter-final stage.

“It’s a friendly tournament and we’re very happy that we have three games. The next game will be a completely different team playing. All of the players who do not usually play will play, but we will not change our strategy or our playing style.”

Pauw’s rotation of her squad could see international debuts handed to Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Megan Walsh, versatile Shelbourne star Chloe Mustaki and 16-year-old forward Abbie Larkin, Mustaki’s clubmate with the Women’s National League champions.

Ireland will be bidding to beat Russia for the first time at the seventh attempt. The most recent fixture between the two nations was a World Cup qualifier at the Krasnoarmeysk Stadium in June 2014 that ended goalless.

“You need to grow as a team to be able to qualify [for major tournaments],” added the Ireland boss, who has seen her team get the better of higher-ranked opposition on three occasions in the past five months.

“It is the whole team, not just 27 players, but also the standby players who put energy in so the whole group is going to another level.

“The task is clear and they get the opportunity to show it now against higher opposition.”

Live coverage of tomorrow’s game will be broadcast by FAI TV.

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