Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Long and Fahey lauded by Irish boss

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has hailed the great performances of replacements Shane Long and Keith Fahey as Ireland picked up a vital point last night in Slovakia.

Long was given his chance up front because of Kevin Doyle's knee injury, while Birmingham midfielder Fahey came in for his first competitive start after Liam Lawrence failed a late fitness test.

And both played their part in the 1-1 draw, with Fahey sending over the free-kick which resulted in Sean St Ledger giving the visitors the lead, while Reading forward Long was a constant menace to the Slovakia defence.

Trapattoni said: 'I thought Shane Long and Keith Fahey played great games. For the future we can have confidence in them knowing the options we have in the squad.

'We have time in the future, our next game is a friendly. I can maybe play one or two other young players and we can start the qualification again with more confidence.'

Last night's display capped a terrific international break for Long, who scored his first competitive goal in Friday's 3-2 defeat to Russia.

Trapattoni believes there is plenty the 23-year-old still has to learn about the tactical side of the game, but he is confident the raw ingredients are there.

'We thought about it in training because he's young,' Trapattoni added. 'We played a tactical game in training.

'He can show us pace but he is still young to master the tactical side of the game. He has technical quality and in the future he will understand.'

Group B looks set to be one of the tightest groups in the whole competition, with Russia now two points ahead of Ireland, Slovakia and Armenia courtesy of their lucky 1-0 victory in Macedonia.

Defeat to Slovakia would have left The Boys In Green with a major uphill battle but Trapattoni believes the reverse fixtures next year, when they play away in Russia then at home to Slovakia, are likely to prove decisive in sorting the final standings in the group..

'We have again this combination of games,' he said. 'Our group is very balanced. Russia won but only 1-0 and Macedonia missed a penalty.

'There are many situations that can happen. It's not about today or tomorrow, there are many games. It's important we believe in our performance, our attitude and our system.'

Slovakia coach Vladimir Weiss agreed, adding: 'The group is very even and Ireland, Armenia and Russia all have great teams so it all depends on the next games.'

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