Ireland manager keen to move on
Soccer:Giovanni Trapattoni has insisted the new additions to his Republic of Ireland squad are not merely window dressing and will feature against Poland at the Aviva Stadium on February 6th.
The Italian today included the Derby County trio of Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon, as well as Norwich City winger Anthony Pilkington, in a 27-man squad for the friendly in two weeks’ time and has suggested two or three of the quartet may even start the game.
Trapattoni has been reluctant in the past to use new players immediately, but the manager has added “evolution” to his lexicon of late and envisages a number of debuts against the Poles.
“For sure, probably, these two or three, I think they can start this game because it will be for them a good test,” he said this evening. “I am sure they start immediately the game.”
Pressed on exactly who he was referring to, he added: “For example: Sammon sure, also Hendrick and also Pilkington.”
Sammon, in fact, seems the most likely, after Trapattoni revealed he has been following the former UCD, Derry City, Kilmarnock and Wigan Athletic forward for some time.
“Certainly the player that would have been most on our radar prior to this is Sammon. He’s a good player who we would have been looking at for some time. He has good technique and a very strong physical presence so he is somebody who we would have been looking at.”
The manager appears equally enthused by Pilkington, who, unlike Sammon, has been conspicuous by his absence, considering the standard of his performances in the Premier League this season and last. The retirement of Damien Duff appears to have hastened his inclusion.
“Yes, he’s a very good player," said Trapattoni. "(He) shows a lot of potential, he’s someone who we are very interested in. We’ve been following him for a long time, we’re obviously without Damien Duff and he’s the sort of player who has the ability to play both left and right. He’s good, he’s well known for his goalscoring ability and that will certainly add something, but it’s not just that. Technically, he’s very good, and tactically, he’s extremely aware on the pitch. That’s something we will look forward to having in the squad.”
Given Ireland’s injury concerns in defence, with Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger and Marc Wilson all at varying stages of recovery from injuries, Keogh would appear to the one with the most to gain from an outing against Poland that comes six weeks before a World Cup qualifying double-header away to Sweden and at home to Austria.
“In terms of Keogh, he has a good personality,” said Trapattoni. “We like what we’ve seen so far and I suppose with the question marks over Richard Dunne and Sean St ledger in terms of their fitness it’s always good to be looking at other options in defence and that’s something we’d like to see when he comes in.