Trap calls up rising star McCarthy for Wales clash
JAMES McCARTHY has been called into the Ireland senior squad for Tuesday's Carling Nations Cup meeting with Wales, but his promotion appears to have come at the expense of Keith Fahey.
The FAI issued a statement yesterday which confirmed Giovanni Trapattoni's slimmed-down squad of 22 names; the Italian had selected a provisional 29-man group in Dublin last Monday week.
Stephen Hunt, Kevin Foley and Paul McShane had fallen from the list due to injury problems, with Wolves confirming that Hunt faces a fortnight on the sidelines with a calf issue.
Kevin Kilbane is excluded, with Trapattoni keen to look at other left-back options ahead of March's Euro 2012 qualifiers, and Aiden McGeady will stay in Russia to continue his pre-season with Spartak Moscow after management decided it would make no sense to bring him all the way to Ireland for just two days for the sake of perhaps only 45 minutes.
Both will return to the fold for next month's visit of Macedonia to the Aviva Stadium.
Andy Keogh is dropped, while Fahey and Anthony Stokes have been placed on standby. McCarthy's promotion from the U-21 squad brings the number up to 22.
Fahey and Stokes are on duty for their clubs on Sunday, but so is Robbie Keane so it would be unusual for Trapattoni to justify the decision on the basis that the players in question would have a limited preparation.
Indeed, Fahey is not guaranteed to play the 90 minutes for Birmingham against Keane's West Ham, and would surely relish the chance to continue his burgeoning international career.
The ex-St Pat's man starred in the October draw with Slovakia when deployed on the right side of midfield, and was then moved into a central role for the following month's friendly loss to Norway.
Even if Trapattoni has decided that he would prefer the Dubliner in a wide role, it seems curious that the 71-year-old would pass over another chance to measure his effectiveness in that department. Instead, Damien Duff, Liam Lawrence and Keith Treacy compete for two starting spots, although it is entirely possible that McCarthy could make his home senior debut on the left or right flank.
The Wigan starlet's absence from the initial party was a surprise, given that he was fitter than some of the others included. He was subsequently listed in Noel King's U-21 panel for a friendly in Cyprus next Wednesday, but Trapattoni had previously stated that the new competition represented a perfect window for the midfielder to add to the cap he earned against Brazil last February -- when he was introduced on the wing for the last 20 minutes.
Seamus Coleman has starred on the right wing for Everton, but Trap wants to try him on the right side of defence and Gareth Bale's unavailability for Wales increases his prospects of starting.
John O'Shea could be tried at left-back, or else Aston Villa's Ciaran Clark will step in for his international bow. Shane Long is expected to shake off the hip injury he incurred for Reading on Tuesday night.
Ireland squad (v Wales) -- Given (Manchester City), Westwood (Coventry), O'Shea (Man U), Clark (Aston Villa), Coleman (Everton), Dunne (Aston Villa), St Ledger (Preston), Kelly (Fulham), O'Dea (Celtic), Wilson (Stoke), Gibson (Man U), Whelan (Stoke), Green (Derby), Lawrence (Portsmouth), McCarthy (Wigan), Treacy (Preston), Duff (Fulham), Keane (West Ham), Walters (Stoke), Doyle (Wolves), Long (Reading), Best (Newcastle).