Staunton expecting victory against Cyprus

October 5, 2006

Republic of Ireland manager Steve Staunton is expecting a win over Cyprus this weekend will kickstart the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.

After three successive defeats, including a Group D opener against Germany last month, nothing less than an Ireland victory will suffice at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia on Saturday.

Staunton concedes it is still early days with regard to his tenure, but he also appreciates there can be no mistakes against Cyprus.

'If we play at the same tempo and go at Cyprus like we did at Germany, then we should be okay,' said Staunton, whose side were defeated by a deflected Lukas Podolski strike in Stuttgart.

'We tried to impose a high tempo over in Germany. That's the way I want to play, but we have to keep the ball better - because we let ourselves down in the second half on that.

'The boys know that - although there was a lot of pressure on them, especially after losing 4-0 to Holland before that.

'They at least put in a performance, but now we have to put in a performance and get the result against Cyprus.

'We are still building. It's all a learning curve, and a lot of them have to learn quickly. But I'd expect us to win.'

The three recent defeats have come without a goal from Ireland, much to Staunton's concern in addition to the fact they cannot keep the ball out of the net at the other end.

'Those defeats have had no effect whatsoever, because the players are buzzing and looking forward to the game on Saturday,' added Staunton.

'What I am concerned about is we've not scored for three games, although more importantly we have to start keeping a clean sheet.

'We're looking at both aspects. We're working on crossing and finishing - and on the other side of things we're looking to tighten up in defence.'

Staunton concedes it is unlikely Reading striker Kevin Doyle will play on Saturday, after he sat out training at the Tsirion Stadium in Limassol today with an ankle injury sustained in Sunday's 1-0 win at West Ham.

Staunton added: 'Kevin will sit out tomorrow as well, and then we will see how he is.

'We will give him every opportunity to be fit for Saturday, and if not then he will have every chance to be ready for Wednesday.

'He is improving vastly every day - but at this stage he probably won't play on Saturday.'

It is more than likely Crystal Palace forward Clinton Morrison will be given the nod to partner captain Robbie Keane in attack.

'Clinton has played there a few times before. He will get hold of the ball; he has an eye for goal and has looked sharp in training,' said Staunton.

'There will be no problems if he plays, or Alan Lee. Who knows - even Damien (Duff) might be up with Robbie. We've got options.'

Liam Miller joined Doyle on the sidelines - because of what Staunton described as 'a strain underneath his foot' - but he will train tomorrow.