Trapattoni focuses on middle men
SOCCER:HIS SQUAD may still be a work in progress given the number of injuries he is having to contend with but Giovanni Trapattoni’s side was showing early signs of coming together yesterday in Malahide, where the Italian spent the morning mulling over which three from four central midfielders might start against Germany.
With scan results putting paid to any lingering hope that Glenn Whelan, Sean St Ledger (who said last night he will be out for four weeks) or James McClean might feature on Friday, Ciarán Clark was called into the squad to offer options in several areas of the pitch.
The Aston Villa defender should train this morning by which time both Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane should have touched down too.
John O’Shea, Trapattoni all but confirmed, will play in central defence rather than at right back, while Keane will lead an attack that will be supported by Aiden McGeady from one flank and either Jonathan Walters or Simon Cox from the other.
The lingering questions, it seems, are whether it will be Walters or Cox out wide; who will start at right back; and who Trapattoni will choose to complete his central midfield.
The manager made little attempt to disguise his search for an answer to the third question during training yesterday, with Keith Fahey and David Meyler taking it in turns to slot in alongside Keith Andrews and James McCarthy.
Trapattoni said afterwards he has three days to decide between the pair who, he suggested, would bring different attributes to the team, with Meyler considered physically stronger and more disciplined in terms of the formation and Fahey technically better.
Whatever he opts to do, it will be a significant departure for a coach who has never previously fielded an Ireland team that included an orthodox three- man midfield. Previous attempts at changing things in this area of the pitch have tended to involve asking a striker to drop back and lend a hand or push a midfielder into a supporting striker’s role.
Asked if he might attempt a repeat of an approach that didn’t go well for him in Gdansk where Spain simply swept through the Irish midfield, reinforced or not, Trapattoni said no.
“We need a striker who can keep the ball, play with the ball but remember it’s gone bad for us against Spain. We need to attack as well as to defend but this time I think we need a pure midfield.”
Keane’s performance against the Spaniards was hardly seen as a triumph but Trapattoni insists his skipper’s “personality” makes him an automatic choice for a game like this.