Vera Pauw will be forced into at least three changes in personnel as Ireland hunt a third successive victory in their Euro campaign against Greece today.
Wins over Montenegro and especially Ukraine have spiked hopes of a first-ever major tournament qualification for the Girls in Green — but they cannot afford a blemish in this afternoon’s outing.
“Greece are below us in the seedings, so we really need the three points,” says star player Denise O’Sullivan.
“I have every bit of confidence in this team to go out and get the win.”
With temperatures of around 20C predicted at the Nea Smyrni Stadium in Athens, this shouldn’t be a burden for Ireland.
And between captain Katie McCabe and striker Rianna Jarrett, they have plenty of power and pace to stretch the hosts.
O’Sullivan’s intricate passing will be crucial on an afternoon when patience will be required.
“We are not going to take Greece lightly,” O’Sullivan continued.
“Even as the home team, they will sit deep, wanting us to break them down.”
Pauw is without Heather Payne and Megan Campbell for her second competitive game at the helm.
Florida State University refused to release Payne, while Ireland are denied the services of long-throw specialist Campbell after she suffered concussion while playing for Manchester City against Birmingham.
Brighton’s Cork star Megan Connolly is also injured.
Despite being favourites, Ireland face a Greece side also showing signs of promise in the campaign.
They racked up a 4-0 victory in Montenegro — scoring two more than Ireland did against the minnows at home — but suffered a 5-0 defeat to Germany.
Given eight-time champions Germany put 18 goals past second seeds Ukraine over two meetings, it suggests they are capable of causing Ireland real problems.
Anything less than victory will probably mean Ireland’s only hope of qualifying is through the play-off rather than as clinching one of the best three runner-up berths across the nine pools.
M Hourihan; K Keenan, L Quinn, D Caldwell, C Mustaki; T Toland, N Fahey; L Kiernan, D O’Sullivan, K McCabe; R Jarrett.