REPUBLIC of Ireland senior team manager Giovanni Trapattoni last week visited Montecatini in Italy, the training base to be used by his squad as preparation for the EURO 2012 finals. During the visit, the Irish manager took the opportunity to provide an update on matters such as injuries to his squad and their match-fitness at club level.
Asked about the status of those currently sidelined, especially defender Richard Dunne recovering from a broken collarbone, Trap 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 with Glenn Whelan because he didn't play in (Stoke's) last game but he said he was okay, 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. Mcgeady says he is fine. He said he was injured but he is now fit to play. I check on all the games that he [Mcgeady] plays, and the other players."
While many of the Irish squad are not receiving regular game time with their clubs, Trapattoni didn't consider the matter a concern. "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. 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 (friendly on June 4)."
More pressing in the manager's thoughts, however, is the job of whittling down his current player pool to a 23-man squad for the finals. Trapattoni is due to announce the final cut on Monday, May 7th at the Aviva Stadium.
"We have 27 or 28 players and it will be 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 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. (James) Mccarthy, (Seamus) 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. I said that it was important to give a chance to the players who helped us achieve qualification, 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."
FAI eflow Summer Soccer
Bookings for this year's Summer Soccer Schools have gone live! Camp places can be booked online at www.summersoccerschools.ie or by calling 1890 OLÉ OLÉ (that's 1890 653 653).
Commiserations to Killarney Celtic U11s who lost 3-1 to St. Kevins of Dublin in the National Cup semi-final last weekend. They did their club and the county proud in their march to this stage of the competition.
Sean Brosnan scored an absolute cracker for Limerick FC as they beat Cork City 3-0 to advance to the quarter-final of the EA Sports Cup.
Diarmuid O'carroll's Cliftonville draw 1-1 with Crusaders and remain third in the league table.