Ian Harte’s defensive capabilities may be in question but for goalshy Ireland his deadliness at freekicks will be vital against Cameroon in their World Cup finals opener in Niigata Saturday.
The 24-year-old Leeds United star, who has attracted interest from Italian giants Inter Milan and Scottish champions Celtic, has scored eight goals in 40 internationals which places him only two behind striker Robbie Keane an indication of Ireland’s problems up front.
Harte, who may well line-up alongside his uncle and clubmate Gary Kelly if Steve Finnan fails to make it against Cameroon, is confident he can add to his tally as the official ball for the finals has been very much to his taste.
« The ball should be a delight for any deadball specialist, » he said.
« It goes like a bullet when you hit it though if you don’t connect properly then it could land out by the cornerflag!
« The goalkeepers will have to be on their guard because the speed it goes they may still be standing on the same spot when the ball goes past them.
« Thus far I have more or less been hitting it true but I need a bit more practice, » he added.
Harte, who like Kelly has come in for some stick both at club and international level for his defensive frailties, said he hoped Cameroon lapsed into their old ill-disciplined selves.
« I know that in the past two years they have been transformed into a well-drilled unit that seldom lose control but I may only need one go to make them pay, » he added confidently.