Kevin Doyle and James McClean look set to miss out on a starting position for the opening World Cup qualifier in AstanaRepublic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni has hinted that Stoke City's Jonathan Walters is set to partner Robbie Keane in attack at the expense of Wolves forward Kevin Doyle.
The Italian coach suggested that Walters' physicality can be used early in the game to wear down the Kazakhstan defence, before introducing the pace of players such as Shane Long.
“At this moment yes (Walters is ahead of Doyle) because he’s so strong physically," Trapattoni told reporters yesterday. "At his club he is used to working hard and moving from right to left but he challenges through the centre as well.
Sunderland's Kieren Westwood has emerged as the new number one after Shay Given's retirement, while Sean St Ledger has shaken off a knee complaint in order to partner Darren O'Dea in the heart of defence.
It also appears as though Simon Cox will start on the wing, rather than James McClean, in a 4-4-2 formation, with Trapattoni recalling the Nottingham Forest man's performance in Serbia as particularly impressive.
“I will ask [Walters] to spend all of his energy up front and then later we will have the opportunity to add pace through Long and Doyle. But we must exploit the strength of Walters and create opportunities for the others – Cox with Robbie [Keane] – because against Serbia Cox was one of our best.”
"McClean came here with a sore throat," added the Ireland boss. "This morning he was better but now he has a little problem with it. I think he will be okay in one day. Then we will make a decision," he said.