Westwood injury adds to Ireland's 'keeper crisis
The bad news keeps on coming for Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifier with Macedonia after Keiren Westwood, the intended replacement for Shay Given, was forced off at half-time in Coventry's loss to Bristol City on Saturday.
Westwood had conceded three goals before being withdrawn due to a hip injury, seriously worrying news for Trapattoni who could be without his three chosen 'keepers with Given out and Joe Murphy still on the sidelines at Scunthorpe.
The Ireland manager will be hoping for a positive bulletin on Westwood's well-being, or else his decision about who to bring into the squad will be about more than just providing cover.
Trapattoni is believed to have been leaning towards a first call-up for Millwall's David Forde or a recall for Birmingham reserve Colin Doyle as back-up to Westwood.
He may have to view things differently now, with QPR 'keeper Paddy Kenny, who does have more experience, making a convincing case for inclusion with a series of clean sheets for the Championship table-toppers.
Motherwell's Darren Randolph is another who could be in the frame if Trapattoni loses the services of his three favoured netminders. Indeed, his fourth choice, Brian Murphy, is also on the sidelines at Ipswich.
Trapattoni is planning to give Westwood his competitive debut against the Macedonians after using the 26-year-old five times in friendly internationals.
At least there were positive developments on the striking front for the Irish camp over the weekend, with strikers Kevin Doyle, Shane Long and Leon Best on the scoresheet, and Damien Duff continuing his fine start to 2011 with a brace for Fulham against his former club Blackburn.
The exiled Stephen Ireland grabbed the headlines, though. In his interview with 'Newstalk' on Saturday, the Cobh man hinted that he might consider a return to international football, although the context of the chat was his attempt to repair the damage after disparaging comments in a French magazine about his native Cork, Birmingham and Giovanni Trapattoni.
A comeback under Trapattoni appears out of the question, however, with the on-loan Newcastle man offering his belief that the Irish manager knew little about him when they met.
"I went into the meeting with an open mind, but I left scratching my head because it wasn't a proper conversation," said Ireland.
He did express regret at the manner in which he left the camp in 2007 -- lying about the death of his grandmothers -- and said he should have gone back to play under Steve Staunton rather than letting a negative situation fester.
"I do genuinely regret the situation developing the way it did. I should have gone back. Steve Staunton was great to me as a player and as a person," added the Aston Villa employee.
"I'm not saying I would go back at the drop of a hat, but I am not ruling it out either."