Stoke’s Loss Is Ireland’s Gain – And Not In A Good Way


Glenn Whelan may have fallen out of favour at Stoke City, but he continues to be named in the Republic of Ireland first team.


Why this remains to be the case three years after making his debut is a mystery. He is an honest, hard-working player but ultimately very limited at international level.


During his time as a first-team regular Ireland have came close to qualifying for the World Cup and remain in the hunt in a three-way tie at the top of their Euro 2012 qualifying group.


No doubt many, especially Giovanni Trapattoni, will use this as a good reason to continue Whelan’s inclusion for competitive matches.


But there’s no denying, despite the reasonable results so far under the Italian, that central midfield remains a graveyard – and that’s not necessarily down to the lack of options but down to Trapattoni’s stubbornness.


The recent game against Macedonia demonstrated that Ireland can’t keep playing the way they are.


Sooner or later they’re going to have to retain possession and be more ruthless with modest opposition.


Their failure to control and dominant games isn’t soley down to Whelan – Darron Gibson needs to vastly up his game.


But Whelan constantly gives the ball away, is easily dispossessed and looks uncomfortable at this level, despite having plenty of caps under his belt.


A conservative Trapattoni will also argue that he’s a defensive-minded player who is there to win the ball back – but he doesn’t even do that with conviction.


Players like Keith Fahey and James McCarthy have the attributes to keep possession, which is essential at international level, create more and make light work of sides like Macedonia.


McCarthy particularly will make the Irish team stronger and will leave Wigan whether they’re relegated or not for a big club.


There’s no guarantee that the Scottish-born midfielder, who finally ended speculation about his international career, will wave a magic wand and improve things straight away.


But he, and one or two others, have to be given a chance otherwise Ireland will blow a glorious chance of qualification.

Tags: Glenn Whelan, Stoke City, Republic of Ireland, Euro 2012, Giovanni Trapattoni, Darron Gibson


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