GIOVANNI Trapattoni says that he will not play both Richard Dunne and Sean St Ledger in next month's crunch tie in Sweden if the long-term injury victims recover in time.
Dunne has missed all of this season with a recurring groin issue, while St Ledger is sidelined with a complicated hamstring problem. Their return would present Trapattoni with a selection dilemma as regards John O'Shea, considering his preference for Seamus Coleman at right-back.
However, the 73-year-old has confirmed that O'Shea is safe, either at centre-half or possibly even at left-back, where Marc Wilson is also on the comeback trail. His belief is that it would be far too risky to place his faith in a Dunne/St Ledger pairing.
Considering he wants Dunne to shackle Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it means that St Ledger will miss out if the Dubliner is ready.
Ciaran Clark's strong showing in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Poland has also played the Aston Villa man into contention.
"We don't know what is going happen but if St Ledger and Dunne come back, they are coming back after long injuries. I don't know if I could risk them together. Let's say I could look at a Clark/Dunne option. It's all hypothetical," said Trapattoni.
"O'Shea would definitely play. He can play right or left. I hope Wilson comes back fit. We'd like to have Coleman, we always need a defender who can go up (and support the attack).
"It is important that we have Richard. He says to me 'I will be ready in two weeks'. I said, 'Be careful, don't rush it because we need you in this game.'
"He said 'Sure'. Once he comes back from injury, he can play in one or two games because after one or two months without a game he is not 100pc."
One defender who appears to be out of the picture regardless of his well-being is Stephen Kelly. The Reading new boy was rested from this game, although another long-term squad member, Paul McShane, ended up figuring on the right side of the defence.
Relations between Kelly and management have soured since their showdown prior to the win over the Faroe Islands in October, and although the story was denied at the time, the Italian – who switched to his native tongue while talking about it yesterday – confirmed that the player threatened to walk out.
He insinuated that Kelly sought guarantees that he would be playing or else he was going home. At the time, he was completely out of the picture at Fulham, but he is back in regular action again after his January move.
"He was out of his club, Kelly, you know this," said Trapattoni, who then moved into a general discussion that featured a mention of voluntary exile Darron Gibson.
"We called Paul Green at the last moment and he came with enthusiasm. That is the Irish players. They must be happy to come for their country, for their shirt.
"These players do not say in their club, 'If I don't play, I go home'. They wouldn't do that in their club. Only here.
That may depend on the availability of experienced options elsewhere, with the identity of his defence likely to influence the selection of his wide midfielders.