Sunderland’s O’Shea: It’s win or bust for Republic of Ireland

John O'Shea.
John O'Shea.
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JOHN O’SHEA accepts why questions are being asked about Giovanni Trapattoni’s future as Republic of Ireland boss, with former Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill being touted as a successor.

Ireland face a potentially make-or-break encounter in Austria tonight after defeat to Sweden on Friday night left their World Cup qualification hopes hanging by a thread.

Trapattoni’s outfit lie side-by-side with Austria in qualification group C, with both teams three points adrift of the second placed Swedes – now favourites to a secure a place in the World Cup play-offs.

Should Seb Larsson’s Sweden lose in Kazakhstan today and Ireland win in Vienna, then it will renew optimism, but realistically, Trapattoni’s men may need to win in Germany next month.

Inevitably, defeat to Sweden has prompted speculation over Trapattoni’s future, with O’Neill already installed as the bookies’ favourite to succeed the veteran Italian.

But while O’Shea understands questions are being posed of what lies ahead for the Irish, the Sunderland skipper is keen to keep their hopes alive with victory in what is effectively a knock-out game in Austria.

O’Shea said: “With the defeat now, there will be lots of questions asked. If we don’t qualify these questions will be asked.

“When Ireland lose against a team that we are able to beat at home, especially after doing so well to get a 0-0 over there in Sweden, everyone will be disappointed.

“All we can do is dust ourselves down for tonight. If we can win in Vienna who knows what might happen, we’re in a knock-out situation now, they can knock us out and we can do the same to the Austrians.

“Both teams are going into it like a cup final. It is as simple as knock-out now.

“We’ll wait and see what happens when Sweden have to go to Kazakhstan and if they do win, there is still time for something to happen, but unfortunately we’ll have to get a result in Germany. It is out of our hands now.

“Was this campaign a missed opportunity? I’ll tell you in two months.”

O’Shea was yesterday named in Trapattoni’s starting XI, but Sunderland goalkeeper Keiren Westwood is again confined to a role on the bench.

Westwood lost his spot as Ireland first-choice to Millwall’s David Forde last season due to a lack of first-team action with the Black Cats.

And despite starting each of Sunderland’s first three Premier League encounters, Westwood has been snubbed against Sweden and now Austria.

H Next month’s Wear-Tyne derby between Sunderland and Newcastle has been rescheduled.

The Stadium of Light clash with the Magpies was originally due to kick-off at 4pm on Sunday, October 27. But the encounter has now been moved forward to a 1.30pm kick-off.