Republic of Ireland have options in attacks says Giovanni Trapattoni


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The Independent Football

Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni could head into next month's Euro 2012 play-offs without first-choice striker pairing Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle.

Wolves frontman Doyle will definitely be missing after being sent off for two bookable offences during last night's 2-1 Group B victory over Armenia which clinched their play-off place.

But Los Angeles Galaxy striker Keane is facing at least four weeks on the sidelines with the muscle injury which prevented his participation last night, and that means both men could be spectators for the opening game next month.

Asked how much of a blow Doyle's absence will be, Trapattoni said: "Yes, but I hope Robbie Keane will come back, and also we have Shane Long, we have Simon Cox, we have Jonathan Walters.

"Unlike two years ago, we have options - and we also have Aiden McGeady and Damien Duff. I am confident about this.

"That is our team. Maybe we don't have superstars, but McGeady is playing very well and Duff is fantastic.

"I am happy with our attitude, mentality and approach to every game."

Ireland will go into tomorrow's draw along with Portugal, Croatia and the Czech Republic - the four are likely to be seeded - and Turkey, Estonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro, with a place at next summer's finals in Poland and Ukraine at stake.

They do so courtesy of an eventful victory over the group's surprise package Armenia, who made them fight all the way to the whistle for the points.

Ireland's hopes were given a significant boost by keeper Roman Berezovsky's 26th-minute dismissal for handling Cox's shot outside his area, although replays suggested the decision had been harsh.

The visitors' fortunes took a further turn for the worse a minute before the break when defender Valeri Aleksanyan turned Duff's cross into his own net.

When Richard Dunne bundled home from close range after substitute keeper Arsen Petrosyan had spilled McGeady's cross, the points looked to be safe.

However, Henrikh Mkhitaryan's strike two minutes later made for a tense finish which was not helped by Doyle's premature departure after he was sent off by Spanish referee Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez for two bookable offences inside 12 minutes.

Trapattoni felt the second caution, issued for an elbow on Karlen Mkrtchyan, was harsh, and added: "People were asking after the Ireland rugby team lost to Wales, 'Can the footballers gave us a boost in morale?'.

"The players knew this, they felt the situation and they had a big weight on their shoulders.

"They had that responsibility of keeping the nation's hopes up, and it is a big responsibility.

"I am proud of this situation because this team is not the Irish team of 10 or 15 years ago when all the players played for big clubs.

"I am happy with our results. We have achieved something important. But we have done only 50% and now we have the play-off."