King acts fast to bring exiles in from the cold
Return of Gibson, Reid and Stokes suggest even brief reign may leave worthwhile legacy
Andy Reid has been called into the Republic of Ireland squad by interim manager Noel King.
Germany, in October of all times, may not strike everyone as the ideal first away trip to bring Andy Reid on after his five years in the international wilderness, but if all goes well with the 31-year-old Dubliner and his fellow exiles next week then Noel King will have done his employers, and successor, quite a service with the squad he named at Abbotstown yesterday.
In using his first few days in charge of the senior team to rebuild bridges long since burned with the likes of Reid, Darron Gibson and Anthony Stokes, King has made the job of whoever end up in the job on a long term basis that little bit easier.
All would presumably have returned when approached, it seems, just as Stephen Ireland apparently will in the fullness of time, but in the cases of those named yesterday the baggage of the Trapattoni era will be dispensed with and the new boss will be able to move forward without having his settling in period . . .well, unsettled.
A couple of weeks ago, when it was still anticipated that the FAI might name a permanent replacement for Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of these World Cup qualifiers, the expectation had been that King might simply name a squad that included everybody on the Irish horizon.
He has been rather more clinical than that, however, and acknowledged yesterday that the likes of Darren O’Dea, Simon Cox and Andy Keogh will not thank him for it.
Declined call ups
Many felt Trapattoni should have been more forgiving in his attitude although it’s hard enough to imagine how Stokes or Reid had too much to complain about while Gibson, the one player the Italian probably felt might have been useful to have around declined call ups since the European Championships and was effectively biding his time until there was a change of regime.
Gibson made it abundantly clear a couple of weeks back that he believes that he merited a place in the side and he will now get the opportunity to show a different manager what he has to offer.
Interestingly, though, King is not as disparaging towards Paul Green as the Everton midfielder was or many Irish fans tend to be with the Leeds player safely, it seems, on board the flight to Germany.
Gibson inclusion may come as a setback for Glenn Whelan who was more capped under Trapattoni than any other player.
Reid’s return, though, may not have too much of an impact at this stage despite King’s positive assessment of the 31-year-old fitness and form.
The Nottingham Forest player may be producing the goods at present for the Championship outfit but his career has included more peaks and troughs than most and with the start of the European Championship campaign almost a year away it is hard to imagine that he would be seen at that stage as much more than a bit part player by the next manager.
The current upheaval may be rather more significant for Stokes, long seen as a player with enormous potential and one who King got a great deal out of on occasion with the under-21s.
The interim coach said that he sees the Celtic player, who he will watch this evening against Barcelona, as somebody who can play up front, out wide or just behind a striker.
He has power, pace and an eye for goal, though, and, as King suggested yesterday, looks like he is finally beginning to deliver what had long been expected of him.
Stokes, one suspects, could actually add something slightly different to the mix and the new manager, whoever that might be, could do with every new ingredient that’s going.