Daily Mail's Colin Young on John O'Shea.
John O’Shea is no stranger to the captain’s armband.
After Lee Cattermole’s latest aberration in a Sunderland shirt, the former Manchester United defender was given the skipper’s duties by Martin O’Neill. Assured, confident, brimming with experience and knowledge, the Sunderland manager has been tempted to give O’Shea the role permanently.
O’Shea, who will captain Sunderland in the Wear-Tyne derby on his return to the North East next week, found himself thrust into the spotlight as captain of the Republic of Ireland for the first time yesterday. And warming to the theme created by his manager Giovanni Trapattoni, supported the wily Italian’s theory that Ireland’s young guns must step up to the plate tonight.
The fact it is Germany they will be facing, with the big four of Given, Dunne, Duff and Keane missing for the first time in 15 years is a minor hindrance.
With a young team comes a young captain and there were few other options available to Ireland’s coach as he contemplated who could step in for veteran captain Keane for this World Cup qualifier against the side ranked Number Two in the world.
Waterford-born O’Shea, looking to win his 82nd cap against Joachim Low’s team, is well aware that as the most experienced player in the group the responsibility is on his shoulders to guide players like Seamus Coleman, making his first competitive start, through a difficult occasion.
O’Shea said: `To be captaining your country is special and to do it in a competitive against Germany will be very special again but more importantly we need 11 leaders on that pitch.
`I know it is a classic cliché but for a game like this at home against Germany we are going to need a massive effort, not just from the lads starting, but for everybody who is preparing to come on the pitch as well.
`There will be four players from the Euros starting the game tomorrow and the rest are, shall we say, younger and the experience is missing.
`But some people have been calling for the players who are in now to be given a chance and different things. So they have a massive chance and what a way to do it against Germany, if we can get a positive result.
`Obviously it will be a bit strange but Robbie Keane still has a chance for the game against Faroe Islands on Tuesday and I am sure he will be around.
`He will be important figure, with his experience at relaxing people before the game, talking and making sure everyone is focussed on their jobs. So it is will just the same. Yes there are some familiar faces missing but the new blood has to get a chance.’
Ireland opened their World Cup campaign with a fortunate victory in Astana, Kazakhstan last month.
A goal-down with the clock running down, they needed late goals from Keane and substitute Kevin Doyle to clinch a 2-1 win.
The Irish side, who returned from Euro 2012 after humiliating defeats to Italy, Spain and Croatia, are building for the future and O’Shea could well be the future captain of his country if Richard Dunne decides not to return and when LA Galaxy striker Keane eventually retires.
But for now, his focus is on clinching a shock result over the Group C favourites who very rarely lose on their travels.
O’Shea added: `Basically my job will be to organise the whole team and make sure everyone knows their roles beforehand. It is not just about one individual for a game like this, it is about the whole team and that will be the main thing, making sure everyone is doing their job and leading by example.
`It will just be organising from the back and focussing, making sure we can keep a clean sheet. If we can do that it is going a long way to achieving a massive result for us.
`It is unfortunate that a few lads have retired and we seem to be missing experience this week with the injuries that we have picked up as well.
`But when we made changes in Kazakhstan last month, the lads came on and we won the game and the other lads will get the chance to start now and stake their claims for a starting place in the on-going qualifiers.
`And what a team to do it against, the cream of Europe, the cream of the world. They are ranked second and have some of the best young players in the world who have shown it at their clubs already this season and in the Champions League.
`So it is a massive test for us but one that the players and management and the fans are looking forward to. You look forward to playing an occasion like this and playing against the best in the world is something you dream of. It an occasion to look forward to and we have to grab hold of it and really take our chance.’
By Colin Young