St. Patrick's Day Special: Inside Look at the Irish Squad as They Prepare for World Cup Qualifying

DUBLIN From - Republic of Ireland manager Brian Kerr has opted for experience for the vital World Cup qualification clash with Israel in Tel Aviv on Saturday March 26.

Kerr named a 23-man squad for the clash in Tel Aviv and the friendly international with China at Lansdowne Road on Tuesday March 29 believing that Easter Saturday will be vital in which teams progress out of Group Four to Germany in 2006.

The top four in the group are all in action that day with Ireland clashing with Israel while France and Switzerland are also in action and all four teams know that victories will be a massive boost on the road to Germany.

"I think with Switzerland and France been on at the weekend and our game it’s going to be a very important day said Kerr.

"No matter what happens on Saturday week they’re will be a few twists and turns before the end of the group. We’ll only be half way through the group. There’ll be a lot of points to play for though there is no doubt that the day will be crucial to the group."

With the pressure likely to be intense he has allowed Aiden McGeady to return to the Under 21 squad for their clash with Israel on Good Friday while also leaving out Graham Barrett Alan Lee and Jon Macken out. Instead he sticks to the players who produced the goods in Paris and Basel late last year.

Ireland gained draws in both of those away ties and Kerr admitted that he would not be disappointed with a draw though his ambition remain to claim victory.

"I’m rarely disappointed if we draw away and win at home. Most league tables are won by teams that can win at home draw away and sometimes win away. As the group has been shaping up so far probably the best-gained point so far has been Israel’s point in Paris and probably our point in Paris as well.

"But unless you win your home matches there is not much of an advantage gained. Probably the team that can win away matches will have more of an impact on the group.

"Our approach will be to have a go. We don’t see any sense in sitting back and letting teams come on to us and try and play on the break. I don’t think we’re comfortable with that way of thinking. We have good attacking players and don’t have the physical strength for that way of playing.

"We’ve got to go and play and get the best result. We’re capable of winning the match and they’re capable of winning the match."

Kerr admits to being impressed by Israel in the qualifiers to date which have seen the side ranked only the fourth strongest before the qualifiers climb to joint-top of the table alongside Ireland and France.

"I had Noel King watch one of the early games for me at home to Cyprus Lou Macari saw a match and I saw a match myself away to Cyprus. This is probably the best team they’ve had in a while. They’ll be confident and under pressure from their own support. There’ll be a huge expectation and they’ll have to deal with it.

"I’m sure they will be well prepared. They have a clever manager. They had a very good result in Paris a decent result at home to Switzerland beat Cyprus home and away so they will be in confident mood particularly at home.

"They’ve got very good attacking players. I think that’s where their strength lies. Apart from Paris they’ve conceded goals. Their games have been quite open."

Ireland Full National Team Squad: Given (Newcastle United) Kenny (Sheffield United) Murphy (Walsall) Carr (Newcastle United) O’Shea (Manchester United) Breen (Sunderland) Dunne (Manchester City) Cunningham (Birmingham City) Finnan (Liverpool) Maybury (Leicester City) O’Brien (Newcastle United) Miller (Manchester United) Roy Keane (Manchester United) Kilbane (Everton) Holland (Charlton Athletic) Quinn (Sheffield United) Kavanagh (Wigan Athletic) Doherty (Norwich City) Reid (Tottenham Hotspur) Morrison (Birmingham City) Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur) Elliott (Sunderland) Duff (Chelsea).


Saturday, September 16