Tardelli: Ireland can cope without Doyle

Republic of Ireland assistant coach Marco Tardelli is confident that the squad can cope without striker Kevin Doyle when they take on Slovakia in Tuesday’s Euro 2012 qualifier.

The Wolves forward misses the match in Zilina after sustaining a knee injury, but Tardelli believes coach Giovanni Trapattoni has adequate replacements in the likes of Cardiff City’s Andy Keogh and Shane Long of Reading.

“It's a problem because Kevin Doyle is a very good player for us, but we have young players like Shane Long and like Andy Keogh,” Tardelli told reporters.

“They are very good players but without experience. But I think the young players are ready to play in an important match. Against Russia, Long came on, he played well and scored a goal.

“I don't think we will start with Robbie Keane as a lone striker. Maybe it's possible to play a young player as a lone striker, but Giovanni will decide.”

Group B is proving to be one of the tightest in qualifying. The Boys in Green go into the match locked on six points with Slovakia and Russia after losing their 100 percent record in Dublin on Friday.

And one of Trapattoni’s potential front men, 23-year-old Long, says he is ready to lead the line in Tuesday night’s crunch game.

“I'd love to get a run. It's a massive thing to play for your country and I've only started once for Ireland in a competitive game," he said.

“If I get the nod, I'll be ready. It's nice coming off the bench when the other team's a little bit tired but I feel like I've been playing well for my club and it's nice to show what you're about.”

By Luke Nicholls