Keith Andrews has described the feeling within the Ireland camp as 'fantastic' as the team gets ready for the game against Croatia in Euro 2012's Group C on Sunday. Part of the reason for this, according to Andrews, was the impromptu break from training on Wednesday.
“I think the day off was needed," Andrews told the Irish Examiner. "We’ve been training a lot and had two games as well. It really lifted the lads, spirits are really high. It was nice yesterday to literally do nothing, have a walk around the town and just sample a little bit of the atmosphere."
The Dubliner says that the players asked for a break, contradicting Marco Tardelli's assertion that no one had requested a day off.
“But the rest day has been built up to be more than it is," said Andrews. "You don’t train every single day when you’re at your club. It was a case of we have an itinerary and yesterday was pencilled in for a day’s training but the lads spoke to the manager and he came to the conclusion that a day off would be the best for all concerned. It was just as simple as that really.
"The fact is that [Trapattoni] is an Italian and they’ve got certain ways but the vast majority of us are used to the English system where we train for two or three days and then we have a day off."
He continued: "Italian football is a lot less intense. When we train we can’t seem to take it easy. Once we stick a couple of goals up and a couple of goalkeepers in, it becomes competitive just by our nature. I think it was a clever call, to be honest.”
And the 31-year-old is confident that the Boys in Green know enough about the Croatian team to make the game that bit extra competitive.
“We know all about [Croatia] anyway,” he said. “We played them last year and watched their game against Norway when we were in Montecatini last week. So we’ve been watching them, seeing clips of them, and been given all the information, so we’re fully aware of their strengths.
"They’re a fine side and we’re under no illusions it’s going to be a tough game."
He added: “I faced [Luka Modric] as a right back when he was left wing for Spurs and, I have to be honest, I didn’t enjoy that afternoon. Right back isn’t my favourite position. He’s obviously moved into the centre of midfield over the last couple of years and he’s a fantastic player. If you give him time and space on the ball he can hurt you.”
He continued: “They probably are edgy, aren’t they — and our games are edgy at the best of times.”
“I wouldn’t be expecting a ridiculous amount of goals because, by the nature of the game, we’re obviously wary not to lose the game and they will be the exact same, I’d imagine."
Andrews admitted that the weeks of preparation are beginning to take their toll on the players, but the squad is glad that the tournament is nearly upon us.
“The last two and a half weeks have dragged a little bit," he said. “We are itching to go but we are also older and wiser now and know what we’re about, so come Sunday, we will be bang on."