Martin O'Neill's experiment of converting Robbie Brady from winger to left-back at international level is set to undergo its sternest examination yet when Scotland travel to Dublin for a make or break Euro 2016 qualifier on Saturday.
The Hull City man made his bow in the Irish backline in November's 4-1 friendly win over the USA in the Aviva – a game in which Brady scored twice and generally excelled in a position he has fulfilled at club level semi-regularly in the last three seasons.
With Stephen Ward still recovering from a fractured ankle at the time, Brady suddenly came into serious contention for the home qualifier against Poland in March and was ultimately parachuted into the left-back position for that particular fixture.
The 23 year old made one costly error in the game, losing possession with a blind pass back inside near the touch line which granted Slawomir Peszko the opportunity to nip in ahead of the flat-footed Marc Wilson and fire past Shay Given from a tight angle to put the Poles ahead.
The Boys in Green managed to snatch a point thanks to Shane Long's 91st minute equaliser and Brady has now admitted that “it wasn't a great performance” by himself personally. However, he believes that he is getting stronger in the left-back position week-on-week and, with the backing of Ireland boss O'Neill, has full confidence in his ability to do a job against Scotland if needed.
“It's been a learning curve, but I think I'm getting more familiar with the position every time I play and I'll be ready to go now on Saturday if he [O'Neill] calls upon me,” Brady told media after finishing training at Gannon Park on Wednesday.
“Just the defensive side of it and the positional sense,” Brady replied when asked about the biggest lesson of his education as a full-back. “You have to get your head on it quick or else. Mistakes happen so quick, especially playing at this level.”
Continue reading Robbie Brady's assessment of his development at left-back on Extratime.ie.