Soccer Scene

Preview: Republic of Ireland - Russia
13.02.2002 at 19:30 - Lansdowne Road

Mick McCarthy is set to offer a shot at World Cup glory to uncapped Richard Sadlier and Colin Healy when Ireland play Russia tonight at Lansdowne Road (kick-off 7.30pm). McCarthy stressed his interest in seeking to add to the strength of Ireland's international squad for the longer term in the upcoming series of friendly matches against Russia, Denmark, USA and Nigeria but also confirmed he was looking for potential members of the squad of 23 for the World Cup finals in Japan.

The fringe players who stand in line for a welcome piece of international action against Russia are Clinton Morrison (Crystal Palace), Stephen Reid (Millwall) and Andy O'Brien (Newcastle) in addition to Millwall's Sadlier and Healy, who is on loan from Celtic to Coventry.

But McCarthy will ensure a helpful environment for the youngsters by ensuring they are not all on the pitch together.

He is also interested in facilitating an Irish win over opponents who won 2-0 at Lansdowne Road when the teams last met in March 1996 and said: "I never want to devalue a match. We always try and win at Lansdowne Road and we won't be any different this time."

The teams have agreed they can use up to seven substitutes but McCarthy highlighted his twin ambitions of winning and giving his youngsters invaluable exposure at this level by saying he intended to shuffle his team. He purred with appreciation, however, of the promise Healy, 21, with 10 u-21 caps, and Sadlier, 23, with two u-21 caps, have shown in training.

"Colin Healy is the one who has impressed me" he said, "I knew him from the u-21s. He's trained against us before and he's always done okay but from his game for Coventry when they played Crystal Palace he really impressed me.

"He is a central midfield player who is quite disciplined. When we've played in the game we've had in training he recognises when it's time to sit. He's an intelligent player, he can play around people, he likes a tackle, he's a modern-day midfield player and I think he can be a very, very good player."

Of Sadlier he said: "Richard Sadlier has not looked out of place training with us, he's certainly physically stronger, there is no question he's got an eye for goal."

McCarthy had Sadlier on trial when he was manager of Millwall but the Dublin-born centre-forward was hampered then by an injury. He was signed by Millwall after McCarthy had moved on to take charge of Ireland.

"I have been impressed with him and I've been even more impressed watching him in training and playing with quality players around him," McCarthy said.

He spoke of the numerous players being touted now in the media for inclusion in the Irish squad for Japan and said: "They will only contribute if I think they can contribute, that they are good enough or maybe better or equal to somebody we've got."

He explained he had one eye on seeking out additional players for the longer term and the European Championships that will start in September but offered this incentive to the newcomers by saying: "They're not in here for trials. It may well be a little trial to see if they are international footballers which is slightly different."

It is certain that McCarthy will pair Damien Duff and Robbie Keane at centre-forward for some portion of the match at least as he seeks an alternative approach to Ireland's usual tactic of using big Niall Quinn as a targetman.

Quinn, who has played consistently for Sunderland this season despite a constant need to nurse his damaged back, is certain to be in the squad for Japan but McCarthy is on record as being keen to encourage a partnership between Duff and Keane.

Much, of course, will depend on the trend of the game for if Russia play to their potential Ireland will be hard-pressed to contain them. Russia impressed in the World Cup qualifiers when they won a group that included Slovenia and Yugoslavia and they have a talented squad.

The midfield pair of Mostovoi and Karpin have sparkled for several seasons now with Celta Vigo in Spain while centre-forward Beschastnykh has blossomed after returning to Spartak Moscow after failing to reproduce his top form over a couple of seasons in Spain.

His return of 23 goals for Russia from 60 internationals puts him ahead of Ireland's record goalscorer, Niall Quinn.

The desire of both managers to look at fringe players makes predicting the result impossible but there is no doubt the need for Ireland to win is greater.

They want to restore the confidence that grew with their unbeaten run through the World Cup qualifiers until that dramatic last match against Iran in Tehran.

They will be buoyed by the atmosphere at Lansdowne where a capacity 40,000 fans will greet them for the first time since they clinched World Cup qualification.


H / A / N Matches W D L Goals + / -
H 5 1 2 2 5 - 6 -1
A 2 0 1 1 2 - 4 -2
N 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 +0
Total 7 1 3 3 7 - 10 -3

Date&time Comp. H / A / N Final score
06.09.2011 at 16:00 European Cup Qualifier A 0 - 0
08.10.2010 at 19:45 European Cup Qualifier H 2 - 3
06.09.2003 at 00:00 European Cup Qualifier H 1 - 1
07.09.2002 at 00:00 European Cup Qualifier A 2 - 4
13.02.2002 at 19:30 Friendly H 2 - 0
27.03.1996 at 00:00 Friendly H 0 - 2
23.03.1994 at 00:00 Friendly H 0 - 0
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