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McCabe enthused by strength of growing Irish side

Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe feels standards are improving with each round of international fixtures for the Irish team ahead of the visit to Wales to Tallaght Stadium on Tuesday.

Ireland secured a 0-0 draw in Italy last Friday which could have even better if Leanne Kiernan’s disallowed goal was not flagged offside.

The visitors had to withstand some late pressure but came away with the draw amid some impressive individual performances.

Kiernan’s return plus Jess Ziu’s performance after almost two years on the sidelines was heartwarming to the Irish captain.

After a strong Nations League showing and the breakthrough of reaching the World Cup, it is the ability of players within the group which is standing out most for McCabe.

McCabe said: “You see the levels have just gone up a notch each time we come into camp.

“I know we’re missing Denise (O’Sullivan), Sinead (Farrelly) and Tyler (Toland) but the introductions of Jess Ziu for example (shows our strength).

“She’s been out for 17 months and having her back was a real breath of fresh air. We have such young fresh and exciting talent.

“You see Izzy Atkinson getting her first start as well. And Abbie Larkin coming off the bench, Leanne Kiernan too. There are all these names being talked about which is so exciting for me.

“Because you can see the talent they have and now it is just about all of us getting up to the level of performing consistently each time we come in.

“And I feel like we’re really starting to get into a groove of that. We almost didn’t want to take a break after the Nations League (last year) because we were feeling really good.

“But at the same time, it was also nice to reset and refocus and come back here hungry for the next camp which will be Euro qualifiers.”

Head coach Eileen Gleeson experimented with a new tactics last Friday, adopting a back four with an extra sitting midfielder and support to striker.

It remains to be seen what the approach is against the Welsh but Gleeson was happy with that she saw in Italy.

The Irish boss explained: “It was a change in formation from what we used in the Nations League but what we talk about is being adaptable and how we occupy space and not getting fixated on one particular formation.

“We’ll have different squad members with different attributes. We’ll have different opposition. We want to be able to adapt quickly whether we have a three or a five (in defence or midfield) or if we want to go to a four.

“That is what we tested out against Italy and I felt the girls did really well in that. You only have a short time with the girls in camp and players on different days from their clubs. It’s a short time you spend on the pitch. The girls did brilliantly and I thought that was reflected well in the game.”

Ireland will be hopeful of a victory to sign off the camp and ahead of the attempt to qualify for the European Championships for the first time.

Gleeson concluded: “We’re expecting a really tough game. Wales have a lot of experience in League A.

“They didn’t stay in but they have come up against a lot of top teams. We’re expecting them to be very quick on the transition.

“They’ve got some real quality players like ourselves so we’re expecting a tough test and a good benchmark in preparation for the Euros.”

Watch Republic of Ireland v Wales in an international friendly on Tuesday from 7pm live on the RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, follow a live blog on and the RTÉ News app

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