Paddy Mulligan: Ireland should factor in points advantage against Wales

As the squad for the March 24th World Cup qualifier is named, ex-Ireland defender looks at approach

BY Raf Diallo 15:56 Monday 13 March 2017, 15:56 13 Mar 2017

Manager Martin O'Neill ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Former Ireland defender Paddy Mulligan believes Martin O'Neill should make the most of the points advantage when it comes to setting up tactically against Wales later this month.

The Boys in Green welcome the Welsh to Dublin for a 2018 World Cup qualifier. Ireland occupy top spot in Group D on 10 points, four points clear of third placed Wales.

With the Welsh more in need of a victory, Paddy hopes O'Neill takes a cagey, counter-attacking approach that picks off Wales in the March 24th match.

"What they mustn't do against the Welsh is get carried away with the fact that they have to win the match. Ireland don't have to win the match. Wales have to win. So I'd be inclined to say, 'Wales, if you're so good, you come at us and we'll pick you off' and hit them on the counter-attack," he said, as the ex-Chelsea and Crystal Palace full back reacted to manager O'Neill's naming of the provisional squad.

"If [O'Neill] plays a high defensive line, it leaves an awful lot of space for Gareth Bale to get in behind, for instance. He's like lightning.

"Ireland have got to be very cagey. It could come down to the tactics on the night as well to a great degree as to how Martin O'Neill does and Martin to me, isn't the greatest tactician in the world. But I hope he sets up in a way that Ireland aren't exposed. If Ireland are exposed at the back, we could be in trouble and that would be a concern.

"I think Ireland will win it provided they're sensible in their approach to the game."

The concern remains up front for Paddy, eight months on from the international retirement of Ireland record goalscorer Robbie Keane. O'Neill's squad features Kevin Doyle, Shane Long, David McGoldrick, Daryl Murphy, Adam Rooney and Jonathan Walters. 

"Up front is the big question. Shane Long is in and out of the Southampton team. He blows hot and cold, for me, and he gets the spectacular goal as opposed to the tap ins," said Paddy.

You can listen to the full chat with Paddy right here:

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