Giovanni Trapattoni, the manager, will ask Robbie Keane to reprise Francesco Totti's role in his Republic of Ireland masterplan. The 27-year-old captain was asked to play off central striker Kevin Doyle in the hole in front of Trapattoni's midfield quartet against Serbia on Saturday, and will do the same against Colombia at Craven Cottage this evening. The Italian is hoping the Tottenham frontman can help provide the link as he attempts to replace a long-ball approach with a more dynamic style.
Trapattoni acknowledges that the Roma star Totti and Keane have different qualities, but is confident his man can do a similar job. He said: "I want him to play a little bit between the midfield and the forwards. I want him to play in a similar role to Francesco Totti – Totti is Totti and has other qualities to Robbie, but that's the sort of area I want him to play in. Robbie can play like that, and he can also score goals. He can do that."
Today's game will bring an end to the first phase of Trapattoni's mission as he looks towards the World Cup qualifying campaign, which begins in Georgia in September. However, he is hoping the lessons he has conducted on the training pitch both in Portugal last week and in Malahide since the squad's return to Ireland have been assimilated.
The 69-year-old was delighted with the way his players worked as a team in the 1-1 draw against Serbia, although he admits they need to show more as an attacking force. But he is adamant both facets of their approach must be conducted as a single unit.
He said: "The players know when we have the ball, we have to go forward and look for goals. If we score first, the opponents have to come at us and there is more space then. In recent years, the questions have been about Ireland's defence being catastrophic. Now, we have an opportunity against Colombia to look more confident.
"In recent years, the defenders have lost here, lost here, lost here, mistake, mistake, mistake. Now, I hope, against a strong opponent, we can play better, we can be more sure."
Ireland will line up with plenty of attacking flair at their disposal with Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff supporting Keane and Doyle from the wings. However, Trapattoni said: "I don't want to speak about the past but it was one or two passes and then a long ball. Now we go forward with passing and movement. Now the movement with Robbie and Doyle, with McGeady and Duff, is different. I don't want to change much because I don't want a revolution, but the little situations can change. I want them to be confident on the ball and play many, many passes."Reuse content