Pilkington to herald a new 4-5-1 style for Trapattoni
Evolution likely to be a stop-start affair, with Norwich star heading off on his honeymoon
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni at Monday’s press conference in Carrick on Shannon, Leitrim. Photograph: Inpho
Giovanni Trapattoni says he intends to use the Republic of Ireland’s friendly against England at Wembley as a stepping stone to a new style of playing. The evolution is likely to be a stop-start affair, though, with Anthony Pilkington, who the Italian suggests is vital to the switch, set to miss the Faroe Islands qualifier while on his honeymoon.
Speaking yesterday in Carrick on Shannon, where his squad announcement was held to help celebrate the 400th anniversary of the town’s charter, the Italian said that his intention is to play 4-5-1 against England with Pilkington out on one wing and, it seems, Wes Hoolahan in the centre.
Quite what happens after that is unclear, however. The 74-year-old said Pilkington, who is also carrying a slight knee injury, “could be important against the Faroe Islands”, and indicated that he will talk with the player about his plans when the squad meet up in London on Sunday week. “He doesn’t know what will happen in the future but he will have many opportunities to go on honeymoon,” he observed.
Trapattoni acknowledged, however, that there is the potential for Pilkington to encounter “problems with his wife” and didn’t seem optimistic regarding the prospect of the 24-year-old interrupting his honeymoon in order to travel to Dublin for the World Cup qualifier on June 7th.
The manager’s positive reference to Hoolahan came when he was asked directly if he would use the Dubliner in the new system but he made it clear that the team must have wide players like Pilkington, who are capable of posing a threat to the opposition’s goal, if just one striker is to start.
The likes of Aiden McGeady or Damien Duff simply didn’t score enough goals to make the switch a viable one in his opinion, and he said nothing to suggest that he feels Robbie Brady has come on enough to offer the option despite having made a generally positive start to his international career.
Mistrustful of Hoolahan
The Italian, in any case, continues to give the impression that he is slightly mistrustful of Hoolahan who has yet to start a game for Ireland despite some impressive displays for Norwich; including against West Brom on Sunday when he contributed a great deal to the team’s success in front of goal.
Shane Long, one suspects, would still be a preferred option but the striker will, along with James McCarthy, miss the Faroes game through suspension and Trapattoni says that he will let the pair head off for the summer rather than keep them around in order to drag them off to New York for the Spain game.
If past experience is anything to go by then quite who will be around at that stage is open to question. Trapattoni didn’t sound entirely sure that everyone else would be around for all of the games and Robbie Keane may miss Wembley due to commitments with LA Galaxy, but the Italian insisted that the feedback he has received has generally been positive.
Kevin Doyle, who will have surgery to address an Achilles problem, and Ciarán Clark, who has a foot problem will not travel but Glenn Whelan will be there for the qualifier at least, despite recent injury problems.
“I told him,” the manager said, “to be careful, that friendlies are friendlies but that the game against Faroes is important. He told me he will be ready.”
After a miserable season with Wolves, meanwhile, Stephen Hunt and Stephen Ward simply miss out. Alex Pearce, who is reported to be of interest to Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers, is also overlooked and none of the goalkeepers linked with a call-up – Ryan Meara, Mark Bunn or Rob Elliott – gets a look in. “We have David Forde and Keiren Westwood and we must show them respect,” said Trapattoni.
As for his own future, Trapattoni dismissed the idea that he may become Napoli manager.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD: Forde (Millwall), Westwood (Sunderland), Randolph (Motherwell), O’Shea (Sunderland), St Ledger (Leicester City), Delaney (Crystal Palace), Keogh (Derby County), Wilson (Stoke City), Coleman (Everton), Kelly (Reading), O’Dea (Toronto), McShane (Hull City), Whelan (Stoke City), McCarthy (Wigan Athletic), Green (Leeds United), Hendrick (Derby County), McGeady (Spartak Moscow), Pilkington (Norwich City), McClean (Sunderland), Brady (Hull City), Meyler (Hull City), Keogh (Millwall), Keane (LA Galaxy), Long (West Brom), Sammon (Derby County), Walters (Stoke City), Cox (Nottingham Forest), Hoolahan (Norwich City).
Richard Dunne: A call-up never looked to be seriously on the cards given he has not played all year but Giovanni Trapattoni said yesterday if his club agrees and the player wants to then he may train with the squad over the coming weeks. More significantly, he suggested there is still a place for the 33-year-old in his side next season if he can get back playing: “If he is fit, why not?” he said with apparent enthusiasm.
Stephen Hunt: The midfielder expressed confidence before Christmas if he got back playing for Wolves an Ireland recall would follow but to judge by yesterday, Trapattoni seems to have moved on.
Stephen Ward: The Dubliner’s fall has been perhaps the most dramatic but having struggled at the European Championships it was somewhat inevitable the manager would look for alternatives. Marc Wilson has displaced him on merit but Ward, who IS linked with a move to Ipswich, must be disappointed to have been discarded.
Alex Pearce: The 24-year-old was a member of the one of the Premier League’s leakiest defences but looks set to be playing in the top flight again next year after declining to sign a new deal with Reading. He scored on his debut for Ireland, contributing one of the four against Oman, and has had one late call-up since but being overlooked here does not auger all that well.
Rob Elliott/Mark Bunn: Both got decent runs in their club sides due to injuries to the first-choice goalkeepers and each has suggested that they would welcome a call up. Trapattoni’s comments suggest he is happy enough to stick with David Forde and Keiren Westwood.