Squad takes shape as Trapattoni dreams of Stockholm success under starlight
Ireland manager believes he will have full squad for game he prefers to play in the cold
Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. Photograph: INPHO/Donall Farmer
As the Republic of Ireland ’s preparations ahead of the first of two critically important World Cup qualifiers continued to take shape in Malahide yesterday, Giovanni Trapattoni said he is already clear about the team he wants to play in Stockholm on Friday.
“It’s just better that it’s not in the newspapers for another few days,” he joked after training, “as that would be bad for morale.”
On the face of it the main question seems to be who will partner John O’Shea in central defence and to judge by the regularity with which the manager cites last month’s Poland game as firm evidence of some remarkable Irish revival, the answer would appear to be Ciarán Clark.
Darren O’Dea, and particularly Seán St Ledger remain in contention, however, with Trapattoni appearing to see the latter as having some potential to counter the pace possessed by a Swedish attack, whose star turn is, of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
St Ledger’s fitness certainly doesn’t seem to be a significant issue for the Italian, with Trapattoni enthusing about the Leicester City defender’s return after such a long lay-off.
Over the course of yesterday morning’s training session, indeed, it was David Forde, Jonathan Walters and Glenn Whelan who looked to be the source of slight concern with the three sitting out some or all of the workout and game.
Afterwards, though, Trapattoni insisted that all would be fine and will, most likely, take some part this morning when Robbie Keane is also expected to make his first appearance of the week after the long journey home.
Just a precaution
“No, they (Forde and Walters) are okay, it was just a precaution,” said the manager. “They are not in great pain. It was only for rest. I’m sure that tomorrow they can take part.
“Also Glenn (who has a slight knee problem), he’s not swollen; that’s important. It’s just a knock and tomorrow he will be with us for sure.”
Keane may find the change in weather a little harder to come to terms with over the next few days than the shift in time zones.
As it has been more than once in the recent years for the Irish, the climate in which Friday’s game is played will be a significant factor although this time it will be far colder than the players are used to and in this instance there is the added complication of a looming disagreement between the two camps over whether the temperature should be controlled or not.
The forecast for Stockholm suggests that it will be minus 10 degrees at the midway point in the match whereas, with the roof closed on the recently-built Friends Arena, it would be closer to plus 15.