Wednesday 18 October 2017

Will one of these players miss out on Euro 2012?

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

CONFUSION surrounds the circumstances which appear to have increased the prospects of James McClean making the Ireland squad for this summer's European Championships.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni threw a curveball into proceedings on Saturday when he suggested that an established squad member had an issue that could prevent them from being involved in the finals. Trapattoni had earlier indicated that the reason why McClean is in with a better chance of making the plane would soon become clear.

It's not uncommon for the Italian's comments to get lost in translation, but there is awareness in FAI circles that someone's travel plans are in doubt, and not necessarily because of a straightforward injury issue.

FAI chief executive John Delaney yesterday admitted that he knew of a development, but said it was an issue for management. When asked to confirm that it was a fitness problem, he chose to remain tight-lipped. "I'd prefer not to comment," he said. "That's for the manager. He brought me across that (an issue) on Saturday morning."

Who could possibly make way for McClean? With the majority of Trapattoni's squad places effectively sewn up -- barring injuries -- there's only a limited number of players who could suffer a setback that might open the door for the Derry lad.

DAMIEN DUFF

FORM:The veteran has enjoyed a sustained run in the team at Fulham after a ropey spell before Christmas, where he briefly dropped out of favour with Martin Jol.

FITNESS:Duff has had a clear run in the second half of the season– a welcome development for a player who has missed a number of important Irish qualifiers through injury in recent years.

AIDEN McGEADY

FORM:Things have soured for him at Spartak Moscow after a fallout with the manager.He was fined for a lack of effort in training, and it was suggested the club should employ a ‘professional psychologist tospeak to him’.

FITNESS:The Russian winter break means he enters the tournament period in a slightly different situation.Had a minor ankle problem in February.

STEPHEN HUNT

FORM:It’s been a difficult year for Hunt, who has struggled persistently with his fitness and was also confined to the bench in games that he would have expected to start.

FITNESS:A recent hernia operation went to plan,and he came off the bench at Swansea on Saturday. He believes he is fine and should be on the plane to Italy on May 27.

KEITH FAHEY

FORM: Given a more central role at Birmingham by Chris Hughton, and that's where he is most comfortable. Comes into McClean equation on the basis that Trapattoni also considers him as wide cover.

FITNESS: A groin issue has curtailed his involvement in Birmingham's league run-in. They have managed the injury with a view to the play-offs.

DARRON GIBSON

FORM: Benefited from a January move to Everton. Vying with Fahey, James McCarthy and Paul Green as back-up for Glenn Whelan and Keith Andrews.

FITNESS: Missed the February friendly with Czech Republic due to a knee problem,and he came off at half-time in the weekend win over Fulham,but no major noises coming from Goodison Park.

KEVIN DOYLE

FORM: The Wexford man has struggled desperately in a nightmare year and his misery was compounded last week when he was hit with a driving ban.

FITNESS: Trapattoni was convinced that Doyle was struggling with a knee issue in the early months of the season, even though his employers denied it. No medical reason has been offered for below-par displays.

SHANE LONG

FORM: Another whose season was hindered by unforeseen circumstances. Trapattoni wants his pace to trouble defences, and has pointed out that he could also do a job in a wide role.

FITNESS: Alan Hutton's horror challenge was followed up by a minor heart issue that was quickly diagnosed and dealt with. Has apparently shaken off all those problems.

JON WALTERS

FORM: Has started more Premier League games than any other Irish striker, but has struggled to score goals. Sometimes deployed wide by Tony Pulis, and Trapattoni has also mentioned his versatility.

FITNESS: Shouldn't lack for sharpness after the extent of his involvement. The only concern would be wear and tear after a gruelling campaign.0

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