Trapattoni snubs Given as five new caps named for Poland game
Shay Given’s international career would appear to be over after all, with Giovanni Trapattoni yesterday signalling his intention to stick with Keiren Westwood for the World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria rather than recall the Donegalman who had indicated that he is ready to come out of international retirement in order to play for the Republic of Ireland again.
The Italian was reported to have told the 36-year-old Aston Villa goalkeeper, who was capped a record 125 times over a 16-year period, that he would persist with the younger alternatives available to him for next month’s friendly against Poland. However, as he named the squad yesterday, the manager said that he has in fact informed the Donegalman that he now regards Westwood, David Forde, Darren Randolph and Stephen Henderson as the future of the team.
“When Shay spoke to us on the phone he said to us that if we did need him that he’ll be there,” said the Italian, who had to cancel a planned trip to Dublin yesterday due to the death of his sister, Romilde.
“That shows a great pride in the jersey, a great professionalism, it is what characterises Shay as a player and we have a great deal of respect for him. We will continue to follow him as a player.”
However, pressed on whether he anticipates the long-time Irish number one regaining that status when the qualifiers come around in March, Trapattoni replied: “No, I feel that I have to give experience to Forde, Westwood, Randolph although certainly I have the utmost respect for Shay.
“He’s made it clear that if we require him he will be there but I have said to Shay directly that we have an obligation to move things and give younger players experience; it’s very important that we develop that, particularly with these friendly matches.”
It appears to be a bold decision by the veteran coach who had previously strongly suggested that the loss of experienced campaigners like Given and Damien Duff had contributed to the team’s difficulties in the autumn.
Trapattoni and the association denied reports that Duff was considering a return to international action, with the player having apparently made it clear yesterday morning in the wake of newspaper reports suggesting otherwise that his position remains unchanged.
Trapattoni’s comments regarding Given came as he named an initial squad of 27 that included five new caps in Norwich winger Anthony Pilkington, West Ham goalkeeper Henderson and Derby trio Richard Keogh, Jeff Hendrick and Conor Sammon. But there was no Robbie Keane or Stephen Kelly, both of whom had been told by the manager they were not required on this occasion.
Trapattoni strongly suggested that the first three of the newcomers, Pilkington, Sammon and Keogh, may well start against the Poles while Keogh is the latest example of his casting around for viable alternatives in the event that Richard Dunne and Seán St Ledger continue to be ruled out by injury.
Pilkington’s inclusion was, considering his form for Norwich in the Premier League through much of this season, the most eagerly anticipated but Trapattoni insisted that the three Championship players can be involved at this level beyond the February 6th friendly.
“I knew them already, I would have seen them plenty of times on DVD and would have been following their progress but the confirmation of that (their ability) was very welcome when I went to see them,” he said.
“Hendrick has shown himself to be very agile, have really good tactical vision and a good understanding of the game. Sammon has great technique, it’s something that really impressed me; he has the potential to add quite a bit.
“Keogh,” he added, “with the question marks over Dunne and St Ledger, it’s good to look at the options. I think these three players have a good chance to be involved, not just for this match but for matches in future with us.”
Pilkington, though, looks to be the one with the best chance of making the greatest impact over the short term, with Trapattoni having been extremely positive about the midfielder, both last year and again yesterday.
“Yes, he’s a very good player. He shows a lot of potential. He’s someone who we are very interested in. We’ve been following him for a long time, we’re obviously without Damien Duff and he’s the sort of player who has the ability to play both left and right.
“He’s good, he’s well known for his goalscoring ability and that will certainly add something but it’s not just that. Technically, he’s very good and tactically, he’s extremely aware on the pitch which is very good as well.
“That’s something we will look forward to having in the squad.”
While Keane has been allowed to skip the game, Dunne has been called in on standby and could actually feature at some stage in the event that his own upbeat assessment of his progress proves to be accurate.
However, Trapattoni said that he is more likely to have a look at him in training, with a view to throwing him back into the heart of things against the Swedes and Austrians.
“I think it still looks quite difficult for St Ledger and (Marc) Wilson, theirs are injuries that require quite a long time. They can come back from them (in time) but it’s by no means sure, we have to keep an eye on it. If they do, great, if they don’t then we have to have other options ready and available.
“From Richard Dunne’s point of view, it’s certainly early days but it’s possibly looking a little more positive. I don’t know if I’d want to run the risk of playing him in February but if he is ready we’ll have a look because he will be very important to us against the threat of Ibrahimovic in March.
“We’ll wait and see but it’s certainly a little more positive in terms of the news that we’re getting.”
He admitted, meanwhile, to being unsure at this stage as to the scale of Keith Andrews’ problem, but the midfielder’s fitness for the March qualifiers is said to be in some doubt after he picked up a strain to his quad muscle at the weekend.