Speed surprised by omission of 'excellent' Reid
IF Gary Speed happened to bump into Giovanni Trapattoni at the Aviva Stadium yesterday, the duo could have had an empathetic chat.
The Italian's main concern at the moment is the lack of game-time his big guns are getting with their clubs, and it's a problem anyone involved with Wales knows well. Ireland may be just getting used to their top stars arriving into camp with a lack of action under their belts, but Speed says it's a problem that can be overcome.
The former Leeds, Newcastle and Everton midfielder gets his career in international management under way at the Aviva Stadium on February 8 in the opening Carling Nations Cup clash and he is keen to get his regime off to a winning start, despite the scheduling of the key Swansea v Cardiff match in the Championship, two days before the clash.
"We certainly want to win," he said. "We have the game on the Sunday which doesn't help me a great deal. But you have to make sure the players are looked after -- there are important games in the week after it. It's a mixture of wanting a win and looking at all the players."
Speed can certainly understand Trapattoni's concerns over his top stars, but he reckons the Irish players can adjust.
"That's a problem that we have ourselves, everyone not playing for their clubs," he said. "But it can work for you as well because it brings everyone together. Some of the Irish boys not playing for their clubs will be dying to play here.
"It's tougher if you're not playing and then coming in for one game for your club. In international football, it kind of takes the pressure off. It's a different environment with different players, a different coach, it's not the same mindset."
However, Speed may not find agreement with Trapattoni on the thorny old topic of Andy Reid, whose international exile was extended yesterday. As manager of Sheffield United before being appointed Wales boss, the 41-year-old worked closely with Reid, who is on loan at Bramall Lane, and Speed is somewhat surprised that the midfielder doesn't make the international grade.
"A little bit," he admitted. "But Ireland is full of quality players. I find picking a squad is quite difficult -- Giovanni is having the same problem.
"He was an excellent player, technically probably our best player. He played every game he was available for and contributed well. He's a Premier League player no doubt, but he did stand out in the Championship.
"His attitude impressed me, off and on the pitch."