Whelan tips Paul Green for starring role in qualifiers

Whelan tips Paul Green for starring role in qualifiers

Keith Andrews forced out of Ireland's team to play Armenia ...
31st Aug 2010


Republic of Ireland midfield mainstay Glenn Whelan will be without his regular engine-room colleague Keith Andrews for this Friday's EURO 2012 opening qualifier away to Armenia but is confident the Blackburn Rovers man's replacement will rise to the occasion.



Paul Green deputised for Whelan in the most recent friendly match against Argentina while Darron Gibson is also a contender to fill the gap created by Andrews' injury-enforced absence.



Whether it's Green or Gibson who is selected by Giovanni Trapattoni for the Yereven showdown, Stoke City man Whelan believes they're capable of doing a decent job.



"We don't know the starting team yet and there'll be few people fighting for Keith's spot," said the 26-year-old.



"If its Paul or Darron who gets the nod, I'm sure they'll do their best,"



"Paul waited a long time to get his chance in the summer friendly matches and he did well. He's a terrific player. I'd say Keith and I are more defensive-minded than himself but he's well capable of playing in this match."



Looking ahead to Friday's Group B encounter, Whelan explained that a strong start against one of the pool's supposed lesser lights is a must for qualification to be attained.



He said: "We're not going into any campaign thinking 'let's go for second'. We're definitely going for top and hopefully that's the case. We know we have some tough places to go to and we're going to have some hard games but we can just worry about ourselves and that's what we're going to do and hopefully qualify.



"It doesn't matter if we're playing Armenia or Russia, we'll worry about ourselves. I think because of what happened in the last campaign everyone was just hoping for this to come around as soon as possible. Hopefully with this campaign here everyone can forget about what happened in Paris.



"We can't think about Russia yet. If we want to top the group, we have to do better than Russia but it's not just them as there are other teams in there too. We have to make sure we're the doing the right things ourselves rather than thinking of how the other group teams are getting on."



He added: "If you look two years ago at the start of the last (World Cup) qualifying campaign, there were a few players like myself coming on the scene who hadn't had many internatonal games. Now, a lot of us have picked up quite a few caps.



"That campaign gave us the experience of playing in the big games in stadiums away from home. Absorbing that hopefully hold us in good stead for this campaign.



"We got some big results away in the last qualifiers, especially the Italian game when we got a late equaliser out there. It's little things like that which you remember and hopefully we get those feelings again."