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Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Whelan keen on midfield trio

Kevin Palmer

Republic of Ireland stalwart Glenn Whelan has urged coach Giovanni Trapattoni to scrap his favoured 4-4-2 formation after what the midfielder described as Ireland's "embarrassing" Euro 2012 campaign.

Norwich star Wes Hoolahan, Wigan's James McCarthy and Sunderland's David Meyler are among those pushing for regular places in a new-look Irish midfield.

There had been calls for major surgery after their woeful showing at Euro 2012 was followed by a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Germany in a World Cup qualifier in September.

But Whelan leapt to the defence of his much-maligned midfield partnership with Keith Andrews and hinted that Trapattoni's tactics were always likely to lead to the results Ireland have suffered in the last few months.

"We have taken a lot of stick down the years for the way our midfield has operated, but what can we do?" said the Stoke midfielder, who has been a first pick for Trapattoni throughout his reign as Ireland coach.

"We are told by the manager to go out and play in this style, so it's not for me then to go: 'Hang on a minute, I'm not.' He's the manager, he's the boss and you do what he says because, if you don't, you are not going to get picked.

"When the manager was first brought in, the board's thinking was first and foremost to get us to a World Cup or Europeans - that's what everyone wanted.

"He got us there, but it's then what you do afterwards, it's what you are going to do once you are there. That's something we are going to work on and try to improve.

"He has fiddled about a little bit with systems and things like that, and that's helped because, since I have been involved and been playing, I don't think I have played against another national team playing a 4-4-2.

"If it's me or Keith Andrews or Darron Gibson or Keith Fahey who has been in there, we have been over-powered. We are playing three against two and we don't get the credit that we deserve, really."

Trapattoni came close to losing his post after that 6-1 drubbing by the Germans, and Whelan said the criticism the veteran Italian faced was justified.

"The results were not right for us - the manager has to take some stick for that," he added. "Us as players take criticism on the chin, and the same goes for the boss.

"When journalists are telling you how great you are one week, you have to accept it if they say you are something else the next week.

"The trouble is the disappointment from Euro 2012 is still hanging around the squad and, I have to admit, I felt a little bit embarrassed when I came back from Poland last summer. It felt as if I had let down my family and let down friends and people who had supported me. That's what it felt like to me, and it was hard to take.

"We need to get over that quickly and get on with the next task now because we still have a real chance to qualify for the World Cup."

Trapattoni is likely to look at several of his fringe players in Wednesday's game against Greece, with skipper Robbie Keane rested and Aiden McGeady, Keith Fahey and Jon Walters among those on the injury list. Hoolahan will play at least 45 minutes at the match in Dublin.

Republic of Ireland team to face Greece: Westwood, Coleman, O'Shea, Clark, Ward, Whelan, McCarthy, McClean, Brady, Cox, Long.

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