Trapattoni facing big rethink
SOCCER: GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI will find out today the extent of the rethink he must embark upon ahead of Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Germany with scans on Glenn Whelan and Sean St Ledger set to reveal whether either has any chance of featuring against the three times champions.
In Sunderland, James McClean will also undergo a scan on what was described as “a very tight groin” in the wake of Saturday’s defeat by Manchester City and he is also rated as doubtful for the game at this stage.
Whelan became the latest concern for the Italian when he limped out of yesterday’s Premier League game between Stoke and Liverpool with a hamstring problem after just 20 minutes. St Ledger suffered a similar problem on Saturday as Leicester City beat Bristol City 2-0 and both will now be examined in Dublin although the association has already acknowledged that the central defender is unlikely to feature on Friday.
At this stage, Whelan looks a long shot too which will upset a manager who has consistently picked the Dubliner to anchor his midfield.
Now, Trapattoni faces the prospect of having to significantly reshape both his defence and his midfield ahead of what will undoubtedly be one of the toughest and most important games of Ireland’s current campaign.
At the back, he looks set to be without both Richard Dunne and St Ledger. O’Dea, he has already pretty much made clear, will start in place of Dunne but now there is the question of who from the likes of Stephen Kelly, Paul McShane or Seamus Coleman would be the best candidate to draft in if St Ledger misses out too.
A good deal will depend on whether he opts to switch John O’Shea from right back to central defence, a move that would appear to make sense given that the former Manchester United star generally plays there for Sunderland these days and that the three would be replacements represent a stronger range of options for the full-back position.
After seeing a bit more action on the right side of Everton’s defence of late, there is a decent case to be made for Coleman playing there on Friday.
In midfield things would look relatively straightforward, if this was any other game, with Whelan’s injury simply meaning that James McCarthy would partner Keith Andrews. But matters are complicated by the fact that Trapattoni has said more than once that he was toying with the idea of playing the three midfielders in an attempt to better cope with the passing and movement of Joachim Loew’s side.
That possibility will pretty much evaporate if Whelan’s injury proves to be any way serious today. The upshot would be Trapattoni being obliged to play much the same sort of system he tried at the European Championships with one of two strikers simply being asked to drop deep to provide regular dig-outs in midfield.
But Trapattoni’s options had already been narrowed on that front on Friday night with the confirmation that Kevin Doyle is to miss both of Ireland’s games with a thigh strain. The striker had aggravated an old injury while training with his club last week and while the FAI continued to hope that he might at least join up with the squad, even after Stake Solbakken had strongly suggested it was not going to happen, that possibility was ended when the results of his scan were assessed.
Unlike Whelan or St Ledger, Doyle was far from a sure-fire starter for Ireland on Friday night but he must have been a serious contender in Trapattoni’s eyes after the impact he made in Astana.
The Italian has sought to provide himself with new options by adding first McClean’s Sunderland team-mate David Meyler and then Manchester United’s Robbie Brady to the group but, whatever slim chance either might have of featuring against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn, the pair seem certain to be onlookers as the Irish try to get something out of the visit of the Euro semi-finalists.
As of last night, it seems, there were no plans to call anyone else up although Joey O’Brien may yet get a phone call.
Beyond that the Italian will, in the event that today’s scans bring bad news, probably have to just hope for the best in terms of the fitness and fighting spirit of those players expected to report for the squad’s first training session this morning. That and look to come up with quite a game plan.