Trapattoni sticking to his guns

Thu, Feb 7, 2013, 00:00

Soccer:Giovanni Trapattoni has staunchly defended his tactical approach again in the face of suggestions this morning that Wes Hoolahan’s performance after coming on against Poland last night is evidence that the Italian has been mistaken in his decision to largely ignore the Dubliner.

“Maybe we have overlooked this side of our game,” said the manager earlier today at Abbotstown, “but don’t forget that we achieved qualification, first for the play-offs game against France and then for the Euros in Poland. Are you sure that if we had played with the system you prefer that we would have qualified? Are you sure?”

Trapattoni acknowledged that the 30-year-old Hoolahan had played well and scored a fine goal last night but he again insisted that against ostensibly better sides Ireland need to play with two strikers. “When you play with one you can still score but you need to be strong. Against teams that are technically better then you need more.”

The coach suggested that Jeff Hendrick could feature in Stockholm despite having only come on to make his debut last night and that Anthony Pilkington could be involved even though he has yet to play at senior international level. Conor Sammon, he said, is still in contention too with the 73-year-old admitting that the Derby County striker might have done better with the second half chance that came his way, but adding: “Okay, he didn’t score a goal but the job he did, physically, passing, putting the defenders under pressure was important. I was happy with the job he did.”

Most of the talk, though, centred on the likes of Shane Long, Jon Walters and James McCarthy, all of whom seem to be pencilled in to feature prominently in the critically important World Cup qualifier. Surprisingly, however, and contrary to the impression he has always given previously, he said that Robbie Keane’s starting place was not guaranteed.

Stephen Kelly, meanwhile, is effectively out of contention for a place in the squad at present after making it clear, according to the manager, that he did not want to travel unless he was going to play.

“You know what happened with Kelly?” asked Trapattoni. “‘I play or I go home!’ So go home. Paul Green? I called him late at night and he came straight away. It’s the way the Irish players need to be. They need to be happy to play for their country. They wouldn’t do it at their clubs. Why? Why only here? Either we have a team or a squad. Anyway, we have others, like Seamus Coleman.”

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