It's sink or swim for Sammon in Austria clash
DUBLIN (AFP) –
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni insists his decision to select international novice Conor Sammon for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Austria is not a major gamble.
With Ireland captain Robbie Keane sidelined by a calf strain, Trapattoni has opted to hand Derby striker Sammon just his third cap as Austria visit Dublin for a crucial Group C clash.
Sammon will start alongside West Bromich Albion’s Shane Long in attack with Stoke striker Jon Walters playing out of position in midfield.
Although Sammon is plying his trade in English football’s second tier, Trapattoni is confident he deserves to start ahead of the more experienced Simon Cox, Kevin Doyle and Wes Hoolahan.
Asked on Monday why he had picked Sammon, who was used as a substitute in Friday’s 0-0 draw in Sweden, Trapattoni said: “Because I think his quality can give Shane support.
“Physically he is strong enough, he’s quick and he is good in the air and he showed us good quality in the last game. He is not only tall, he is fast as well.
“Long is fast as well and we need two fast players. It’s important to defend the ball and give this support to allow the team to come up the pitch.
“We don’t know how Austria will play. Will they wait for us and hit us on the counter-attack, or will they come and put pressure on us? That’s why we need these two fast players.”
Ireland did not manage a single attempt on target as they secured their 0-0 draw in Stockholm, so losing Keane, Ireland’s all-time leading scorer with 54 goals, looks like a major blow to Trapattoni’s plans.
Apart from Keane’s absence and Sammon’s introduction, Trapattoni intends to make only one further change with Glenn Whelan returning from injury in place of Paul Green.
However, the Republic will head into the game confident they can take a major step towards claiming the runners-up spot by collecting three points.
“We have shown we are a good team, compact with good personality,” Trapattoni said. “The players played with conviction and good attitude in Sweden and are growing in belief that we can qualify.
“We must try win this game, but we must also play with intelligence because there are many games to come before qualification is finished.
“We have to be in contention until the very last game. It will be important to stay up with Sweden because Germany are too far ahead.
“But I have a lot of trust in this group and I am convinced we can improve even more.”