Mick McCarthy has discovered that ‘‘less is more’’ as he prepares his Republic of Ireland players for Saturday’s World Cup Group E opening match against Cameroon.
With every player losing weight in training in Japan’s heat and humidity, a concerned McCarthy is easing up on his men to allow them to save their best for matches.
‘‘With all the players less is sometimes better than more because a good number of players have lost more than two per cent of their body weight,’’ explained the Republic boss.
‘‘That means their functions are reduced by 20% in terms of physical functions and concentration.
‘‘Some of them have not put that back on yet and with all the warm-ups and the sweating it means they are losing more and more weight. We might just have to err on the side of producing it in the games rather than doing it here in training.
‘‘It is a concern, players losing body weight. The only thing you can do to combat it is drink, not only water but Lucozade and drinks with sodium and carbohydrates.
‘‘They also have to eat to replenish their body and get the fuel back in. Some players have not yet got back to the weight they were when they came and it is important that they do.
‘‘The players almost have to force themselves to drink while they are playing. It was noticeable after 35 minutes of our friendly on Saturday, passes started to go astray and the concentration went a couple of times.
‘‘But the doctor had a word with them at half-time and in the second half the players coped with it and they had a drink when the ball went out of play, which made them look fitter and stronger.’’
There are injury doubts over five members of his 22-man squad, and McCarthy will not rush any of them back into action.
Jason McAteer (knee) stayed at the team hotel this morning, while Kenny Cunningham (hamstring), Steve Finnan (ankle), Kevin Kilbane (ankle) and Lee Carsley (thigh) trained separately from the rest of the squad. But McCarthy remains optimistic about all of them.
He said: ‘‘Jason’s spirits are up and he is talking about jogging soon. Kenny will be fine, he’ll train tomorrow, as I hope the rest of them will. Lee had a scan which was all clear.
‘‘I am erring on the side of caution and giving them more time to make sure they are right before they come back into the competitive training.
‘‘If Jason doesn’t make it Gary Kelly is an option there. Steven Reid has done very well coming on and is improving all the time but there might be a case for experience in the side, certainly to start with.’’