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The 3 Irish Players France Are Worried About Shows They Haven't Been Watching Ireland

The 3 Irish Players France Are Worried About Shows They Haven't Been Watching Ireland
By Conor O'Leary
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Usually heavy favourites for a game don't know a whole lot about their opposition. So it was almost refreshing to hear the French assistant coach Guy Stephan namecheck three Irish players that can cause France problems ahead of their last 16 game on Sunday.

Who did Stephan name? Was it Robbie Brady or Jeff Hendrick - both of whom have been by a distance the best players for Martin O'Neill's side? Maybe it was Shane Long - whose form coming into the tournament lead to big transfer rumours.

No, it was none of those players. The first name from Stephan's lips was Wes Hoolahan. That's fair enough. Wessi was exceptional against Sweden, and his cameo against Italy brought the goal - the less said about that other moment the better.

Hoolahan can make the difference for Ireland. He is only small in size but has a brilliant left foot, as he showed by setting up the goal for Brady against the Italians.

But the other two names are baffling. Not that they aren't good players - but to single out Daryl Murphy and Glenn Whelan - in a team of players that include Long, Brady, and Hendrick hints that they haven't watched much of the Republic of Ireland recently.

Ireland have other good players like Daryl Murphy, their big striker, as well as Glenn Whelan, who drops back to collect passes from his defenders.

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Murphy was really impressive against Italy, but Brady and Hendrick ran the show - so they can't be singled Murphy out for that. It can't be Murphy's previous Irish form - he hasn't scored for Ireland yet. Murphy has has two incredible seasons in the Championship - but wouldn't you choose Long's season for Southampton first?

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Perhaps Whelan's inclusion is another shot at James McCarthy who doesn't "collect passes from his defenders", but how would Stephan have known that was happening in Ireland?

Although their players don’t operate at the top Premier League level, they still play for good clubs such as Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton.

They can play a 4-4-2 system or a diamond but don’t apply a typically British style, more about play short passes and building up the play.

Perhaps Hendrick wasn't mentioned because Stephan isn't sure how to pronounce his name.

"Hendrick, not Hendrix".

[Irish Examiner]

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See Also: Why I Believe This Will Be Ireland's Best Ever Sporting Weekend

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