IRELAND boss Giovanni Trapattoni has said Black Cats defender John O’Shea’s time at Sunderland has helped make him a key player in his team’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
The Republic of Ireland head into tonight’s game against Austria brimming with confidence after Friday night’s 0-0 draw in Sweden, which kept alive their hopes of claiming second spot in Group C.
Injuries and retirements mean O’Shea and Glenn Whelan are the only two men remaining from the Irish team who started the final Euro 2012 game against Italy in Poznan.
O’Shea, whose experience among so many youngsters, could prove vital.
Trapattoni said: “He has personality whether plays right-back or centre-half. He plays always in first team of a Premier League club and has played many games.
“He can also play right-back, but at this moment he will stay at centre-half, where his experience as defender now is important as we are missing Richard Dunne.”
Ireland need three points tonight to secure a second spot in the group, and while that may require a different approach, Trapattoni will not throw caution to the wind in the pursuit of a win.
He said: “I saw 20 games before I came to Ireland - I don’t remember this ‘show’.
“To remember the show, I must go back to Roy Keane and that great team. I played against this strong Ireland team.
“But for 24 years, we had been missing tournaments. I saw many games on DVD and I can’t remember seeing this.
“Our team has produced this and we can win. Against France and against the teams in the first qualifying campaign, against Georgia, Montenegro and also Bulgaria, we played great football.
“Don’t forget, we have played well in the past.”
Ireland’s away form has been exemplary under 74-year-old Trapattoni.
They are yet to lose a qualifier on the road during his reign to date – but they have struggled to turn the dogged resilience which has served them so well on their travels into expansive football at the Aviva Stadium.