Given woe gives Trap major Euro headache
Giovanni Trapattoni faces an anxious wait for the outcome of Shay Given's visit to a surgeon yesterday afternoon, with Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini indicating that the goalkeeper is facing three months on the sidelines.
That would effectively end Given's frustrating club season, but the Irish camp desperately want the Donegal man to be available for the Euro 2012 qualifier against Macedonia in Skopje on June 4. His chances of returning for that game are very much in the balance.
Mancini confirmed yesterday that the 34-year-old injured a shoulder while warming up for City's Europa League match in Greece last week. Worryingly, it's a reoccurence of the problem that also sidelined him last last April.
"Shay has this problem in his shoulder, and I think he needs three months to recover," said the City manager.
"He has the same injury that he had last year, and I think that he needs an operation. I'm disappointed for him because we have lost a good 'keeper."
Of course, Mancini hasn't lost his No 1 netminder, having preferred Joe Hart this season, but for Trapattoni, Given is very much the main man.
The Italian has yet to enter a competitive game without his services, a run that will be broken when he misses next month's visit of Macedonia to Dublin.
The challenge presented in the heat of Skopje in June will be far more challenging, though, and the absence of Given for that game would present a greater problem.
He worked hard to recover from last year's setback, and made it back in time for the start of the season when there were fears his lay-off would run into September or October.
Trapattoni will be hoping that the veteran 'keeper draws upon his powers of recovery again, although if he does need surgery, then the process will be complicated.
It also means that he could have played his last game for his current employers, with the ex-Newcastle man admitting recently that he would like to move on this summer after a period of immense frustration.
He still has two full years remaining on his contract at Eastlands, and City would therefore be entitled to ask for a substantial fee.
The fear for Given is that clubs may be reluctant to splash out on a senior goalkeeper if they have doubts over his long-term fitness.
Issues with a dislocated shoulder carry a stigma, as a recurrence is more likely with each instance. Former England captain Bryan Robson famously struggled with the problem.
Therefore, Given, for all his quality, may find it difficult to attract an offer from a serious admirer until he proves that he is fully recovered from this setback.
In that respect, it adds an extra incentive to return for the end-of-season internationals, as it would also put him in the shop window and display his well-being to prospective suitors.
It's a big test for Given, who has endured a luckless run with injuries since he picked up the kind of stomach wounds associated with a car crash in a clash with West Ham's Marlon Harewood back in 2006.
That incident ruled him out of Ireland's journey to Cyprus that followed, and a 5-2 defeat which spelled the beginning of the end for Steve Staunton very early in his tenure.
Paddy Kenny was between the sticks that day and hasn't represented Ireland since, but the reformed QPR man is angling for a recall and is the form 'keeper across the water right now.
However, it has been suggested that he will be overlooked for a place in Trapattoni's squad, with Millwall's David Forde in a strong position after being watched by Irish goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly early in the New Year.
Whoever comes in will be providing back-up to Coventry's Keiren Westwood, the established No 2, who shall now assume significant responsibility. All five of his Irish caps have come in friendly matches.