Marco Tardelli says Richard Dunne could start for Republic of Ireland against Sweden

Richard Dunne: Could start in Ireland's crucial qualifier against Sweden

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Marco Tardelli has hinted that Richard Dunne could make his return to competitive international football against Sweden on Friday.

The 33-year-old managed 25 minutes for the Republic of Ireland in June's 4-0 friendly win over Georgia, his only football at the end of an injury-ravaged season and first for Ireland since the Euro 2012 defeat to Italy.

Ireland face crucial games against Sweden on Friday and away to Austria on Tuesday, and assistant manager Tardelli believes Dunne could play in both fixtures.

Tardelli said: "I think so, but we have many options in this squad. If Richard is fit, I think he can play two matches.

"Richard is very important for us because he's a good player. He is very strong physically and against (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, you need physically strong players."

Tardelli insists there will be no special strategy to deal with Ibrahimovic but says Ireland's defence cannot afford any lapses in concentration.

"The back four must control him always because he is their best player.

"There isn't a special plan because he is a very strong player. It's like trying to prepare something for (Cristiano) Ronaldo - Ronaldo decides what he wants to do.

"Focus on the match, focus on Ibrahimovic, it's okay. But when he decides to do something, it's impossible to control him."

Ireland are without injured winger Aiden McGeady and Tardelli did not rule out handing Norwich City's Anthony Pilkington his debut against Sweden.

He said: "No, many players have played for the first time in an important match. He's a professional player and he could play for the first time."

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