Optimistic Trapattoni counting down


Soccer:In an interview ranging from the Irish base in Italy to the composition of his European Championship squad, Irish manager Giovanni Trapattoni expressed his optimism about the condition of his players facing into Ireland’s series of friendly matches as well as the Championships in June.

The Italian coach has been speaking to a number of his squad including Richard Dunne, Glenn Whelan, Stephen Hunt, John O’Shea, Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady, who have all told the manager that they are either fit to play now or will be fit to play in the coming weeks.

“I am optimistic about Richard Dunne,” said Trapattoni. “Two days ago I was in touch with him and he was very confident. He said to me ‘Giovanni, I am well, I am sure I can play in the last game in the Premier League’. The recovery from his operation is going well.

“I was in touch with Glenn Whelan because he didn’t play in their last game but he said he was ok, the manager just wanted to leave him on the bench. And I also checked with Stephen Hunt, we spoke to the doctor at his club but he is sure he can be fit for us.

“I spoke to John O’Shea, he said he had an injury but he will be ready for the next game. I have also been in touch with Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady and McGeady says he is fine. He said he was injured but he is now fit to play. I check on all the games he (McGeady) plays, and the other players.”

Trapattoni added that he was not so concerned about his players getting game time with their clubs but was more interested that they arrive to the Irish squad fresh and prepared for the run into the Championships and the three pool games against Spain, Croatia and Italy. Exhaustion and injury from the long domestic season is a greater worry for the Italian.

“I am only worried about injury, I am not worried if two or three players do not play for their clubs. Once they come in with us in May, after three or four days they will be fine and they will be ready,” he said.

“It is better that they are not tired and that they are fresh for us, I am not worried if they miss three or four games, it’s not a problem for us, we have a week to prepare in Dublin and then time in Italy and in Hungary.”

There are currently 27 or 28 players involved and five of those will be left behind when the squad is reduced to 23 players for the European Championships. But as ever cautious he will want to keep all of his players in a preparatory mood even if they miss out on the initial selection.

“We have 27 or 28 players and it will be a great pity, a great pity, when we have to decide on the 23,” he said. “They deserve to come with us, they helped us achieve qualification but I have to decide.

“We are watching games all the time. Marco (Tardelli, assistant) will be at Sunderland-Wolves next weekend. We have time until a few days before the tournament starts and we can change if there is injury, and then maybe we could do with these extra players.

“I have two or three decisions to make. McCarthy, Coleman, players like that, I have to make a decision. And I do not forget them for the next campaign, for the World Cup but we have to decide the best for now.

“McCarthy played on Wednesday against Manchester United and United lost. His team are last in the table but they are improving.

“The (player’s) position is very important. Usually it’s the defenders or the midfield who get yellow cards or red cards and we may need support in that area, so maybe bring seven or eight defenders and three goalkeepers, four or five midfielders.

.While the European Championships are the immediate and overriding concern, Trapattoni is also thinking ahead for the next World Cup and who will come in when some faces inevitably disappear in the coming years..

“I said that it was important to give a chance to the players who helped us achieve qualification,” he said. “But I also said it was important to leave one or two spaces for the new group, the next generation and sure there is a possibility for players like this.”

In typical fashion the Irish manager also cautioned about having too much young talent for such a pressurised campaign, one which will take them up against some of the best players in the world. Wes Hoolahan’s name emerged and Trapattoni pointed out that he was 30-years-old and hardly young. It may be too late to change the current system to fit in the former Shelbourne player.

“He played well in the last game I saw, he played in a specialist position behind the strikers,” explained the coach. “I have thought about him and we will consider this option. We have a system and maybe it’s too late to change that system. I don’t forget Hoolahan, and maybe he will be there for the next campaign for the World Cup.”

What he is certain of that the Irish base for their camp in Italy will be in a beautiful setting but also a place of hard work for the players. Former Juventus player, Tardelli was born in the region of Burgo a Buggiano, while Trapattoni took his Fiorentina team to the facility many times when he was coach of the Serie A side

“The climate is fantastic, not too hot and not too cold,” said Trapattoni. “Me and Marco are famous around here, I was coach of Fiorentina and Marco was born around here, so people here know us. It’s a beautiful place for our players to come and see and I am sure they will have a good time here.

“We are here to work but they will be able to see the city, though we will be working hard. We will have two training sessions every day, it is all about hard work now. The pitch and the training ground is fantastic, we will have no problems here.”