Trapattoni opens Euro 2012 door to fringe players
Republic of Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni has admitted he faces an agonising series of decisions as he attempts to finalise his squad for Euro 2012.
The 73-year-old Italian has indicated that the 23 men who board the plane for Poland in June will be drawn from those who helped the Republic qualify, and that could mean an anxious wait for the likes of James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman, who have had limited game time.
Trapattoni, speaking during an inspection tour of the facilities in Montecatini, Italy, where the Irish will hold their pre-tournament training camp, said: “We have 27 or 28 players and it will be a great pity, a great pity, when we have to decide on the 23, to decide on this player or that player.
“The squad is very important to me and they deserve to come with us, they helped us achieve qualification. But I have to decide which players deserve to come with us.
“We are watching games all the time. [Assistant manager] Marco [Tardelli] will be at Sunderland v Wolves at the 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.”
Trapattoni drafted in-form Sunderland winger James McClean into the squad for the first time for February’s friendly against the Czech Republic, and he too will anxiously await the final decision.
But the former Italy boss also revealed he and Tardelli have been keeping an eye on the progress of 29-year-old Norwich midfielder Wes Hoolahan, who has impressed during the Canaries’ first campaign back in the Premier League.
He said: “I have spoken to Marco about him, he has been fantastic. We have already James McCarthy and McClean. This is not the campaign for too many young players, but Hoolahan is not young, he is [nearly] 30.
“We think about him. He played well in the last game I saw. He played in a specialist position behind the strikers.
“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.”
Several of Trapattoni’s key men, including strikers Kevin Doyle, Shane Long and Simon Cox, have not been regular starters for their clubs in recent weeks, although the Ireland boss is confident their lack of football will not be an issue.
He is more concerned about those who are currently injured, with central defender Richard Dunne’s recovery from a fractured collar bone the major issue.
Trapattoni said: “I am optimistic about Richard Dunne. 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 [on Wednesday] with [Stoke midfielder] 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 [Wolves], 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.”