Lawrence, Hunt in fitness race
Giovanni Trapattoni may have a wealth of options in the wide department, but he could be without two of them for the upcoming Euro 2012 tie with Macedonia as both Liam Lawrence and Stephen Hunt are struggling with their fitness, writes Daniel McDonnell.
Lawrence is a major concern after suffering a recurrence of a calf injury ahead of Portsmouth's league meeting with Scunthorpe on Tuesday. "I did it in the warm-up, I pulled my calf, it's going to be another couple of weeks," said Lawrence, who is targeting a return for the March 26 meeting with Macedonia at the Aviva Stadium.
Meanwhile, Hunt is also struggling with a calf problem that has failed to fully heal, and is also working on his fitness with a view to making a comeback.
At least Trapattoni has a number of players to choose from for those positions, with the loss of Shay Given and the troubles of Robbie Keane more pressing concerns.
Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady will be in pole position to start against Macedonia, while Seamus Coleman and Keith Fahey provide other options.
Trapattoni also fielded James McCarthy on the wing for his only senior cap last February, and while the Wigan man is a recognised central player, he could now be included in the squad as wide cover.