Trap challenge for McCarthy
Giovanni Trapattoni has challenged James McCarthy to prove in training that he is good enough to start for Ireland in Saturday week's Euro 2012 qualifier with Macedonia.
The Wigan midfielder confirmed his commitment in a meeting with Trapattoni last week after suggestions he was contemplating a switch to Scotland, and the Irish boss is preparing to use McCarthy at the Aviva Stadium. Yet he realistically expects to introduce the 20-year-old as a sub if the hosts are in a commanding position, rather than pitching him in from the start.
However, the Irish manager suggested it could change if the Glasgow native arrived in next week and staked a claim on the training ground.
"Maybe he can come in and convince me he is better than others," said Trapattoni. "Why not? I remember, it was the same with Sean St Ledger. He came in and immediately in training he showed us he was ready."
McCarthy should certainly be involved in the friendly with Uruguay three days after the Macedonian tie.
Trapattoni will have Robbie Keane available for the Macedonia game although he is unsure if his skipper has enough match practice to start, while Richard Dunne remains a doubt with a shoulder problem and also faces an awkward meeting with Aston Villa authorities this week after a row with coaching staff at a team bonding session.
Keiren Westwood is on course to start in goal in place of the sidelined Shay Given, with the uncapped David Forde and Darren Randolph preferred to QPR stopper Paddy Kenny as back-up. Stephen Hunt, battling to recover from injury, misses out the initial draft, but Liam Lawrence is included.
Meanwhile, the Irish boss revealed he could potentially be locking horns with his native Italy in a summer friendly in the US. The FAI are in discussions about organising a meeting, with Boston or Philadelphia the likely venues. It is intended to fit in a short trip following the return clash with Macedonia in Skopje on June 4.
Trapattoni acknowledges he would likely be travelling with a development-style squad, although the prospect of a meeting with Italy might entice some experienced stars to prolong their campaign. A response from the Italian FA is being waited upon before plans can further take shape.