Wolves wing-back Matt Doherty told to switch style when playing for Ireland
Matt Doherty has been told to ditch his Wolves playing habits when representing Ireland.
Green Army boss Martin O’Neill has called on the right-back to drive down the wings rather than pass inside, like he does under Nuno Espirito Santo.
O’Neill’s comments came after Doherty was used as substitute, replacing Fulham’s Cyrus Christie, in Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Poland in a friendly on Tuesday.
The Irish boss said after the match: “I said to him on Monday night that I didn’t know whether I was going to start him or not.
“He’s having a really good time playing regularly with Wolves. Not everyone in our side is playing regularly and certainly not playing regularly in the Premier League.
“From that viewpoint it was encouraging and I thought he did fine when he came on. He won a couple of really strong headers from kick outs.
“But my own view – and I think he totally agrees with me – is that the way Wolves play at times, when he’s out wide he’ll look to pass it infield again.
“I believe he can drive forward with it.
“When he gets the confidence to do that I believe he can do it because he’s strong. Cyrus Christie will try to drive forward in that position. But I was pleased to get him on and we have a bit of competition on that side.”
Seamus Coleman is usually Ireland’s first choice at right-back, but he was out injured for their match on Tuesday, paving the way for Christie and Doherty to get game time.
Doherty can also play at left-back, which is a position he used to occupy at Wolves.
That position for Ireland is occupied by former Wolves man Stephen Ward, who has found himself at the centre of a dispute with the international team, after an audio file emerged of Ward outlining details of a dispute between assistant boss Roy Keane, Harry Arter and Jon Walters during a training camp earlier this year.
The left-back role is also contested by Enda Stevens.
Doherty has been transformed into a right-wing-back at Wolves under Nuno, as part of their attacking 3-4-3 style of play.
But O’Neill revealed the 26-year-old could feature as a left wing-back for Ireland.
“If you’re playing three at the back and two wide players in that system, you’d probably opt for a left-footer,” he said.
“But ‘Doc’ has played in that position before and he’s done fine. When I first saw him he was actually playing left-back for Wolves in a back four.
“If you think about Ashley Young who played there in front of Danny Rose in the World Cup, then I think Doc would be adaptable to it.
“But his preferred position at the moment is as a wing-back because that’s what he’s doing week-in, week-out at club level.”