Robbie Brady's keen to take on a specialist role at Euros
ROBBIE Brady has vowed to spend the next two months honing his dead-ball skills as he prepares for a specialist role at the Euro 2016 finals.
The 24-year-old Norwich midfielder has been entrusted with the bulk of the Republic of Ireland’s set-pieces in recent times and is set to retain what he knows is a key job in France this summer.
Brady said: “My job in the team at the minute – not my only job – is to take set-pieces when they come about, so it’s vitally important for me to be on point, especially going into such a tournament like this when that could be the difference.
“If I just put it in there and keep putting it in good areas, then we have got a great chance of scoring a goal.
“I’ll be practising now until the summer and hopefully I can put in a few good ones and a few to remember.”
Brady did just that on Friday night when his second-minute corner was helped on by defender Shane Duffy for his central defensive partner Ciaran Clark to score the only goal in a 1-0 friendly victory over Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium.
He said: “That’s my job, to put it in that area, but all credit goes to the two lads. Big Duffy is a massive presence in there and he has been putting his head on things since I’ve known him.
“I knew if I put it in a good area, he can get a touch on it and get a chance.
“Clarky was on the move at the same time and he did well to put it in.”
A midfielder by trade, former Manchester United winger Brady has also found himself in demand at left-back for his country in recent times, and that is where he lined up against the Swiss.
He freely admits he is having to learn the defensive side of his duties on the job, although he is happy to play wherever Ireland boss Martin O’Neill wants him to if it means he is in the team.
Brady said: “I’ve been asked where I would prefer to play and, ‘Where do you think you’re going to play?’ but I don’t care, to be honest.
“I’ll play left-back, I’ll play left midfield – at the minute, I don’t really have any preference. I’m just happy to be playing and I’m enjoying every game I come back and play here.
“It’s fantastic to play in front of your home crowd like this and I’m sure it’s going to feel like a home crowd when we go over there. It’ll be a great atmosphere. I’ll play either position.”
Brady and his team-mates will now turn their attention to tomorrow’s clash with Slovakia in Dublin before returning to their clubs and, in his case, to the fight for Barclays Premier League survival before the Euros even come around in June.
However, they will do so with O’Neill’s pool of front men having been reduced to just one.
Stoke striker Jon Walters has had to admit defeat in his efforts to shake off a slight hamstring strain, while Kevin Doyle suffered a nasty gash to his shin in a challenge with Swiss defender Timm Klose, a team-mate of Brady’s at Norwich, and will play no part after undergoing surgery to repair the damage, although he has since confirmed that he will be able to start running again within weeks.
His replacement, Daryl Murphy, subsequently left the pitch with a tight calf muscle and has been ruled out and, with skipper Robbie Keane’s niggling knee problem showing no signs of abating, Shane Long is Ireland’s only remaining recognised striker in the squad.
The Southampton man will probably be asked to lead the line on his own with runners coming from midfield to join up with him, which could well prove the way of things come the summer.