Norwich City international wrap: Heavy defeat for Wes Hoolahan but Timm Klose returns with a win
- Credit: PA
Wes Hoolahan was part of a Republic of Ireland shadow squad that lost 3-1 to Mexico in a New Jersey friendly in the early hours of Friday morning.
City’s player-of-the-year came on as a 64th minute substitute for an experimental Irish side, as Martin O’Neill’s men tune up for a World Cup qualifier in Dublin next week agaisnt Austria.
But there was better news for club mate Timm Klose, who played the second 45 minutes in Switzerland’s 1-0 friendly win over Belarus. Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri notched a superb goal for a strong Swiss outfit that featured the likes of Arsenal’s FA Cup winner Granit Xhaka.
The duo are among a group of City players facing World Cup qualifiers over the coming days. Steven Naismith and Russell Martin are in the Scotland squad preparing to host England at Hampden Park, while new signing Marley Watkins is part of the Welsh set-up who will travel to Serbia.
Hoolahan’s Republic of Ireland will aim to bounce back when their full Premier League contingent return to the ranks for a final Dublin friendly against Uruguay prior to tackling the Austrians.
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O’Neill tried a defensive back three for the first time at the MetLife Stadium but the Mexicans were too strong with Jesus Corona and Raul Jimenez on target in the first period before former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela added a third. Stephen Gleeson pulled one back for the Irish with a consolation strike in the 77th minute.
“In terms of preparation for Austria it was excellent. Mexico were a very good side. It was a good workout,” he said. “In terms of what we have learned, I would say a great deal, all over the pitch.”
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John Egan and Richard Keogh played either side of Shane Duffy at the heart of the Irish defence, with Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane, once a reported City transfer target, in front of the back three with Cyrus Christie and James McClean acting as wing-backs.
“We have to try it, that’s the whole point,” said O’Neill. “That’s what I said in the last two or three days: let’s have a look at it because we might have to do it at some point in our World Cup campaign, we might have to change systems.
“You can play a number of systems but you have to deal with situations. Mexico played much better than us, they deserved to win the game. As far as I’m concerned, it was great. I was delighted to take on, I thought it was great preparation.”
The Irish squad fly straight back to Dublin after the game to prepare for Sunday’s final friendly against Uruguay.