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Whelan departs from Trapattoni's long ball script

The midfielder says Ireland have little choice but to obey the manager – who says he doesn’t demand Route One.

Glenn Whelan could find himself squeezed out of favour by Giovanni Trapattoni for appearing to question his demands for long balls.
Glenn Whelan could find himself squeezed out of favour by Giovanni Trapattoni for appearing to question his demands for long balls.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

IRELAND MIDFIELDER Glenn Whelan may have threatened his own future with the national side by apparently undermining manager Giovanni Trapattoni’s claim that his side are not under strict instructions to play a long-ball game.

The manager’s apparent penchant for Route One tactics has come under the microscope since Friday evening’s 3-2 defeat to Russia at the Aviva Stadium, in which the hosts only appeared to diverge from the tactic – with more success – when the match was all but dead at 3-0.

Trapattoni had maintained after the match that he had not instructed his players to continue playing long balls, though he did admit his desire to get the ball into the opposition third of the pitch as often and as quickly as his side could manage – “We wanted the ball in the last third of their park and then to compete for it there”.

Commenting on Richard Dunne’s post-match comments that Ireland seemed uneasy to pass the ball into opposition territory, Whelan opined that Dunne had “said what he felt, and that’s what he believes, but the whole lot of us know there’s a certain way of playing.”

It’s what the manager sets out and his tactics. Everyone would like to see better football and try and get more passing around the pitch but, if it’s not to be and the manager wants something different, then what can you do?”

The Stoke City playmaker added that Ireland would need to have a ‘Plan B’ in place if Slovakia play a five-man midfield in tomorrow night’s match in Zilina.

Only one change is likely for tomorrow’s match, with Shane Long set to deputise for the injured Kevin Doyle. Neither Doyle or substitute goalkeeper Kieren Westwood have made the trip to Slovakia, where Ireland arrived this lunchtime.

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Gavan Reilly

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