Boss looking for 'warm heart and cold brain' for the trip to Andorra
Published 24/09/2011 | 05:00
Never mind Armenia, Giovanni Trapattoni seems to be more worried about Andorra ahead of Ireland's defining pair of Euro 2012 qualification encounters next month.
Having puzzlingly declared that there was some Russian-inspired "malice" behind UEFA's decision to insist that Ireland visit the Lilliputian Principality, the 72-year-old Italian then labelled the Andorran challenge as "dangerous."
Despite being ranked alongside such giants of the world game as Montserrat and American Samoa, Trapattoni insisted that these were "only statistics" as he urged his side to be "nastier" as they close in on qualification.
He recalled a training game at Juventus when he played alongside the team's academy players against the stellar first-team of Boniek, Tardelli, Platini, et al.
"They did not score for an hour and became more and more frustrated," he recalled. "We must not fall into the same trap. It will be a difficult environment. We will need a warm heart, but a cold brain."
As expected, James McCarthy and Seamus Coleman were included in the 27-man squad, while Jon Walters surprisingly eclipsed England's most prolific Irishman, Newcastle's Leon Best.
The manager insisted that he will allow Robbie Keane to make the final decision on whether he plays a club game for LA Galaxy next month, one which is slated to start hours before his team-mates in Dublin depart for Barcelona. Revealingly, Trapattoni did stress that if there were any complications with his talisman's travels, he was more than happy with the complement of strikers already available to him.
"He tells me he wants to play for his country. But I couldn't tell him not to play for the club. I'll let him decide this. He'll know best.
"We have other options. It's like last time, he's responsible with the injury and he played after consulting the doctor. I have never told players when to play or when not to play for their clubs."
Expressing amusement that Shane Long played for his club just days after being ruled hors de combat for Ireland duty in Moscow last month, perhaps Walters may be the one to benefit from the manager's ever-changing moods.
Clearly confident that he will remain in charge beyond this campaign, the Italian indicated that crack utility player Coleman, who returns to the squad after injury, may have to wait for next summer to get a chance to impress.
Trapatonni stressed that he would not change his system, but instead encourage his midfield to better support his front players, nor would he be averse to risking any of the seven players teetering on the brink of suspension should they earn another yellow card.
Paul McShane, Ciaran Clark, Keith Treacy, Marc Wilson and Best were the notable omissions, while the injured duo of Kevin Foley and Darron Gibson were not considered.
Nor was Manuella Spinelli, Trapattoni's translator, available for yesterday's squad announcement, although the FAI said that she will be back for the crucial double-header in October.
IRELAND SQUAD -- S Given (Aston Villa), K Westwood (Sunderland), D Forde (Millwall), J O'Shea (Sunderland), K Foley (Wolves), S Kelly (Fulham), S Ward (Wolves), R Dunne (Aston Villa), K Kilbane (Derby), S St Ledger (Leicester), D O'Dea (Leeds), D Delaney (Ipswich), G Whelan (Stoke), J McCarthy (Wigan), S Coleman (Everton), K Andrews (Ipswich) K Fahey (Birmingham), A Keogh (Leeds), D Duff (Fulham), A McGeady (Spartak Moscow), S Hunt (Wolves), L Lawrence (Portsmouth), R Keane (Los Angeles Galaxy), K Doyle (Wolves), S Long (West Brom), S Cox (West Brom), J Walters (Stoke).