Ireland have been too dependent on their two centre-halves throughout their Euro 2020 campaign and Mick McCarthy's side could yet be on the end of a serious defeat, according to former national women’s manager Mick Cooke.
The former Shamrock Rovers forward and Drogheda United manager felt that Ireland really struggled in last week’s clash with Switzerland and were missing a real outlet to ease the pressure on the defence.
Speaking on this week’s RTE Soccer Podcast, Cooke said: "We’ve been very lucky against Denmark and Switzerland.
"The amount of ball and the opportunities that both teams created against us, I thought both were very poor in the final third and missed lots of chances.
"Some day someone will hit us for four or five if we keep giving away the opportunities that we are, and we are depending on the two centre-halves [Richard] Keogh and [Shane] Duffy far too much.
"Over the two games, think of the amount of clearances they have made, it’s a worry how they are getting through so easily."
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And Cooke believes that Ireland need a more forward-minded target man to help alleviate the pressure on the defence against quality sides, claiming that David McGoldrick was dropping too deep during the game.
"In the overall context of his play, when we had the ball at the back, he seemed to be everywhere, bar up front. We had no focal point where we could hit to give ourselves time to get out of trouble.
"Big men like Frank Stapleton and Niall Quinn years ago were able to give us a bit of respite so we could get up the pitch.
"I would have kept Shane Long in the squad for his experience alone, like that goal against Germnay, he still has the pace to do that and is a troublesome fellow."
Cooke was positive, however, about the atmosphere that the manager has created within the squad and believes the players are better aware of what is expected of them from their manager.
"Compared to the previous management, the players know what they are doing. There was never any structure in training, while Mick has them so well organised and if you go out on the pitch and don’t know what you are supposed to be doing, you are in trouble straight away.
"These players know their definitive job and the spirit among the group and on the training ground is fantastic, and before the players wouldn’t open their mouths."
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