Trapattoni unsure where trio stand
Soccer:Giovanni Trapattoni appeared none the wiser in Belgrade this evening as to how many of his senior internationals he will retain for a World Cup qualification that begins in less than a month's time.
Following the retirement of veteran goalkeeper Shay Given yesterday, after 16 years between the posts, questions at the pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s friendly against Serbia, focused on the future of another three absentees from the current squad.
Robbie Keane, winger Damien Duff and defender Richard Dunne were all left out of the latest squad after a disappointing Euro 2012, to allow them a break as well as afford the manager a chance to look at some other options ahead of World Cup qualification.
However, having seemingly been taken by surprise by Given’s announcement on Twitter last night, which came a day after the manager said all his senior internationals would be available next month, the Italian appears to be in the dark as to where at least two of the remaining three stand.
In the case of Dunne, it would appear he intends staying on, but he last night phoned the manager to make it clear he will not play the first qualifier Kazakhstan on September 7th, because of a groin injury. Given’s clubmate underwent surgery and was already ruled out of Aston Villa’s opening games of the season, an inconvenience the club appeared to apportion some blame on the FAI for.
“Richard Dunne sent me a message saying he will not be ready for Kazakhstan,” said the Italian. “He needs four or five weeks to recover from his injury and Kazakhstan comes too soon. I answered him and said after this friendly, after he has recovered from his injury, we would review the situation, but I’ve told him we need him, it’s true. He will let us know."
Duff, he said, had yet to reveal his intentions regarding his international future, while Keane, his captain, has not responded to a text message from the manager.
“As for Robbie, I’ve also sent him a text, but he’s not answered me," said Trapattoni. "I’ve checked my mobile. I will speak with him before I announce my next squad (in around 10 days’ time for the Kazakhstan game). He needs to tell me whether he wants to come back or what he wants to do. We can decide after this game because it’s important for us to look at the other players. We have (Shane) Long, (Simon) Cox and (Jon) Walters.
“After this game, and before the one with Kazakhstan, we can think about this situation.”
On the departure of Given, the Italian said he was kept up to speed by Ireland's most-capped international and appreciated the phonecall.
“Yesterday he called and said: ‘Mr, I wish to speak with you.’ He said: ‘I have reflected on my position and I wish to give more time to my club, which has a new manager, and my family. But I want you to know I will always be available should there be an emergency.’
The Italian added: “I was pleased because in all my time I have dealt with players on the basis of loyalty.”
Sunderland defender John O’Shea will captain the side in Belgrade tomorrow and admitted today it will be strange without the familiar presence of the Donegalman.
“It’s going to be very different,” said ‘Shea, whose Sunderland clubmate Keiren Westwood will start in goal. “The majority of my caps have come with Shay as the goalkeeper. He was a fantastic personality, somebody you could rely on. When the defence was beaten, he usually saved us. But now it’s a chance for a new keeper to come in and prove themselves.
“I’ve seen Keiren (Westwood) at training in Sunderland and I know the work he has been doing.”
As expected, Trapattoni has opted to give Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy his second start tomorrow. He will partner Stoke City’s Glenn Whelan in central midfield, while James McClean will man the left flank in the absence of Duff.
McCarthy has three caps to his name but his only start came against Uruguay in a 3-2 friendly defeat in March 2011. Then, he was asked to play in a roaming role behind lone striker Long, but he is expected to play in a more rigid 4-4-2 at the Stadion Crvena Zvezda tomorrow, though manager hinted he may experiment a little.
“For them (the players), it is an opportunity to show their attitude and tactical know how," said Trapattoni. "Maybe we can try something a little different on the pitch."
In total, the line-up shows eight personnel changes from the team that took to the field against Italy in the final group game in Poland.
After opening their World Cup 2014 campaign next month, Ireland will face Oman in a friendly at Craven Cottage four days later, before qualification group rivals Germany travel to the Aviva Stadium for an October 12th meeting.
Republic of Ireland (v Serbia): Westwood; McShane, O’Shea (captain), O’Dea, Kelly; McGeady, McCarthy, Whelan, McClean; Walters, Long.