Stoke City: Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters pair can reignite Ireland hopes, says Terry Conroy
TERRY Conroy believes some typical Stoke City battling spirit can help the Republic of Ireland produce a shock result against world champions Spain tonight (7.45pm).
Former Stoke and Ireland star Conroy says Potters duo Glenn Whelan and Jon Walters typify the never-say-die attitude which his country will need as they attempt to recover from their 3-1 defeat to Croatia in their opening group game on Sunday.
Conroy, who won 26 caps for the Republic, admits the chances are slim of getting out of a European Championship group which also includes four-time World Champions Italy.
He expects Whelan to start tonight, and Walters to at least get a run out as a substitute as the Republic tackle the tournament favourites.
Conroy says both Stoke players will relish the chance to shine – especially as their team has been written off by all the pundits.
He said: "For a few years now Stoke have made that point, it is in their DNA.
"That's the beauty of these two, they won't let you down.
"Ask Tony Pulis and he will tell you he can hang his hat on these two any day of the week.
"Giovanni Trapattoni will feel the same. They are players you can trust.
"Some players have so much ability, but you don't know from one day to the next what they will do.
"I thought that was the case with Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden, when they lost to Ukraine on Monday.
"He's a very talented player, but he blew hot and cold.
"With Jon Walters and Glenn Whelan, you know they will run until they drop and they won't wave the white flag if things are going against their team.
"We need to get back a bit of pride we lost against Croatia.
"If we can do that, then who knows?"
Whelan earned his 40th cap against Croatia, while Walters won his eighth after coming on as a 53rd-minute substitute.
Conroy said they were among Ireland's better players against the Croats.
He said: "I thought Glenn Whelan was outstanding. At this level you have to try to keep possession and he was looking to do that.
"His job was also to try to keep Luka Modric relatively quiet and I thought he did that.
"I think if you asked the manager he would say Glenn and Richard Dunne would be the first names on his team sheet.
"I also thought Jon Walters did well when he came on. He was getting on the end of things, winning knock downs and holding the ball up.
"He gave his defence and midfield and outlet."
"Trapattoni is very loyal and Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle have been his tried and trusted front two.
"But I think at the moment Jon Walters is number three in the pecking order of our strikers, and that's not bad."
Ireland boss Trapattoni admits his side need at least a point against Spain to keep their hopes of qualifying alive before they face Italy on Monday.
Conroy added: "It's not all doom and gloom. Croatia were the better side against us, but they also had the rub of the green.
"We didn't play to our potential but we still have to have belief.
"I know it's Spain, but when you get to this level, games aren't as predictable as people imagine.
"There is huge pressure on Spain because they are expected to win quite easily."