EURO 2016

Mick McCarthy reckons idea of a weakened Italy is 'total bollocks'

EURO 2016By Sunday World
Mick McCarthy during his days as Ireland boss
Mick McCarthy during his days as Ireland boss

Ireland fans may be hoping that Ireland will face a below par Italy side tomorrow in their must-win Euro 2016 clash but former Ireland boss Mick McCarthy reckons the idea of a weakened Italy side is 'total bollocks'.

Writing on his blog for Paddy Power, the Ipswich gaffer made it clear that Martin O'Neill's men face a tough task tomorrow night.

“There’s no such thing as a weakened Italy – Ireland need to be at their best to qualify. Everyone is clutching at straws if they think Italy might put out a weakened team against Ireland. It’s nonsense, total bollocks.

"They may not play all their best players, but it strikes me that they’ve brought 23 of their best players, not just 11. If Antonio Conte makes a few changes, he will still be able to bring in quality.

"And the idea that they may not be giving it everything because they’re already thinking about the Last 16 – mark my words – the Italians want to finish with nine points and beat us. Don’t think anything else.

"Self-preservation, taking the foot off the gas, whatever you call it; that is never a conscious decision from management. Anyone who comes in will want to impress, so we will be facing a good, well organised, motivated Italian team.”

However, after saying that set pieces may be our best hope of a goal, Mick still believes that Ireland have a shot in Lille.

“Ireland have a history of performing when it’s needed and it is needed on Wednesday.

"We can win, but it will take our best performance and a bit more. If we’re not at our best, we have no chance. It’s got to be one of those performances that comes from the bottom of your heart like our 10-man victory over Holland in 2001 and our last-minute draw against Germany in Japan in 2002.

"It has to be something special. We will have to start well and make sure we are solid and get a foothold in the game. But if they score early they certainly know how to hold on to a lead and it could be over for us.

"Yes we can but we need to stay in the game, not do anything stupid and nick a goal from somewhere."

Here's hoping Mick!