Fahey hopes five will be lucky number

Others, the injured Glenn Whelan among them, have put it more forcefully in the past but there was no disguising Keith Fahey’s preference for a five-man midfield when the subject arose earlier this week.

Memories of Ireland’s porousness in Poland, which have lain dormant through an Olympic summer overloaded with a Ryder Cup and the usual sporting fare, are floating back to the fore with Germany’s imminent arrival.

Rewind still further and the thoughts of Russia, Slovakia and Armenia weaving pretty patterns in and around Whelan and Keith Andrews in Dublin 4 during the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign add a seemingly watertight case for extra bodies in the engine room tomorrow.

“If he does [go with 4-5-1], I’d be hopeful of getting an opportunity,” said the Dubliner. “In the summer, I was the one that suffered because of injury and maybe I’ll get time because of someone else being injured this time, I don’t know. If I do, I’ll be delighted to take it.”

It’s not like he would have to learn on the job. For a time there he was regularly farmed out to the left wing at club level but is back playing where he feels he belongs now, in the centre of a five-man midfield.

It’s not a decision Giovanni Trapattoni can afford to get wrong. Fahey’s old pal, Johnny McDonnell, was chatting to a contact in the Faroe Islands recently who was adamant the German team they faced last month was vastly superior to the Italians they came up against last year.

“The Germans were far different and they could not get the ball back off them so I think this week will be about working on shape, being solid and having an attacking option when we can. Most importantly, it will be about keeping our shape.”

Fahey is certainly overdue a run. It was his goal away to Armenia in the first qualifier which set Ireland up for a berth at Euro 2012 and he came on as a sub the night 14 months later when qualification was secured against Estonia at Lansdowne Road.

Yet his involvement in between was more sporadic and he has not worn the green jersey since that festival of a 1-1 draw last November when a first appearance at a major tournament for 10 years was so lustily celebrated.

Missing the finals was a blow but more frustrating it would seem was the fact a sterling performance in the third group game, against Slovakia in Zilina, was followed by just 75 minutes spread over five games in the rest of the campaign.

“I played right wing, I came off injured and I was disappointed to come off injured because I thought I was playing well,” he said. “After that it was just back to the team that’s played the majority of games but I think in this squad there will be more opportunities with injuries.

“Obviously Damien [Duff] is not here anymore, there is going to be opportunities from here on in. I’m not here to go along with it, I want to play. If he picks me, I’m ready.”

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