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Caught in a Trap

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI is losing the battle to convince an increasingly sceptical fan-base that he is the man to lead Ireland forward and the worry now is that he is doing long-term damage to promising players like Ciaran Clark.

After a series of run-ins with young players, Trapattoni has focused on Clark as his next victim and refused to even consider him for tonight's friendly against Oman, instead offering the suggestion that he is oversupplied in the positions the Aston Villa utility man can play in - which is clearly not the case.

"In the past he had an injury and he plays in many positions, but in the positions we need we have enough," said Trapattoni before naming a team which includes two full-backs, Paul McShane and Stephen Kelly, at centre-back.

"We know his qualities but we also have centre-backs O'Dea, Dunne, St Ledger, also John O'Shea and against Oman we play Paul McShane. Also Alex Pearce. He's another. We can play only 11 players but we follow always all the players."

Of the six players he named, only O'Shea and Pearce are playing Premier League football while Clark continues to enjoy the backing of new Villa boss Paul Lambert, who has played him in every game of the new season to date.