Conor Hourihane expects Belgium to put on a show for the Dublin crowd next week despite coming to a friendly with a weakened squad.
Elgia boss Roberto Martinez has opted to travel to Saturday’s friendly at Lansdowne Road without key names like Kevin de Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku as they have all been given a break from international duties, giving fringe players the opportunity to Martinez to prove their worth ahead of the World Cup finals.
But while Belgium’s second line will still pose a threat, Hourihane believes the momentum behind the Irish side and the prospect of a full house will give Republic encouragement for the upcoming clash.
“I would say they will be fine. They’re pretty exciting, a fantastic squad. If a few come out, they’ll have guys ready to hit the ground running. They have world-class names,” says Hourihane of the Belgians.
“Belgium will go into this game as hot favourites. We have to go about our business and be well prepared, hopefully put in a positive performance and see what the result is like.
“There will be a fantastic audience and a lot of excitement to see the Aviva to the full. The crowd in the last few camps has been fantastic so hopefully we can put in a good performance first and foremost and see what the results are like,” he added.
“We have two games ahead of us. I know they’re friendlies but we’ll want to be competitive and get positive results. After that, everyone can look forward to the summer.”
“We don’t know what will be confirmed for the summer, of course with the Ukraine situation, but the first thing is good performances and results against Belgium and Lithuania to keep the momentum going. Whatever the summer will be and we will be ready .”
QPR coach John Eustace, newly appointed to the FAI staff as senior coach under Kenny, trained with the squad for the first time today and while Anthony Barry, who defected to the Belgium setup, is missing, Hourihane welcomes the addition.
“It’s no secret that Anthony was fantastic. When it first came, it was like a breath of fresh air. He had great ideas and the way he trained was great,” says Hourihane.
“He was at Chelsea and you’re not a bad manager when you’re at a top club like Chelsea. You’ve won a couple of trophies and he’s been heavily involved. He’s been very impressive in his time here, making his mark.” the group and was brilliant.
“He went to Belgium and we have to move. Hopefully John who comes in can give us some other ideas along with Keith who is brilliant.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/international-soccer/conor-hourihane-insists-ireland-braced-for-battle-with-brilliant-belgium-squad-41472081.html Conor Hourihane insists Ireland have prepared for battle with ‘brilliant’ Belgium squad