The pressure is mounting on Steve Staunton. His Republic of Ireland side lost 4-0 to the Netherlands 16 days ago and the guiding experience of Sir Bobby Robson has been taken away by illness. All in all, this is probably not the time to face a Germany side that performed so well in the World Cup finals.
But with his big guns available, Staunton is hopeful of an upset. "I'm delighted with the squad of players I've got," he said. "It's not as if we can go out and buy anybody, so we'll try to get the young players through as best and as quickly as we can. Please God, over the forthcoming years we'll have a very strong squad, but we are a small nation and we can only do our best.
"We've been unlucky in certain qualifications, and it hasn't been for the want of trying. I guess we've always punched above our weight over the years, and I'm sure the players will do the same again, and rise to the occasion. As for the pressure, of course there's that, but then that's what football is all about."
Staunton, who remains a novice in managerial terms, admitted that Robson will be missed.
"Although I've had a lot of advice off him, you do still miss his presence because the man has that," he said. "From that aspect, he probably would take a lot of pressure off me.
"I know he is very disappointed he is not here because he saw us getting on the plane. But he knows what is being done and is looking forward to getting involved again as quickly as possible. We obviously wish him well and we're all rooting for him. The poor man has gone through a hell of a lot over the last four months. We're all very concerned, myself particularly, and we'll visit him when we get back."
Staunton at least has a full-strength squad available, although Clinton Morrison sat out training with a sore back and his fellow striker Kevin Doyle missed the five-a-side game as a precaution after feeling tightness in his right leg.
Graham Kavanagh and Liam Miller also missed training as they did not fly into Stuttgart until after the session. Both players had been completing moves to Sunderland, from Wigan and Manchester United respectively.Reuse content