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Forget the slump and join Trap's green army

SO how has the build-up to Euro 2012 been going for you? Excited? Nervous? Anxious? Maybe it's the austerity but, so far, 'low key' best describes the countdown to Poland.

It's difficult to allow yourself to be happy or excited about anything these days, sure as you are in the knowledge that within hours, some exponentially more dire financial announcement than the last one will seep into your consciousness in our wired world.

Maybe we've lost our sense of pure delight at the simple achievement of qualification and are too busy nailing down euros before they fly away that the concept of a summer of fun with Giovanni Trapattoni has yet to take root.

It would also help if the build-up had a focus, as it did in the 1980s and 1990s when Jack Charlton spent an awful lot of time criss-crossing Ireland in search of salmon and an earner.

He turned up at every promising pool and, after emptying it, moved to the local chicken and chips motel for a night with the locals, as much ale as he could fit in.

Mick McCarthy, too, had a much higher profile on a day-to-day basis and a weekend rarely went by when a camera didn't catch him at a Premier League ground keeping an eye on his players.

He was also available at the end of a phone and, broad as his accent was, there was never any communication difficulties.

But Trap flits in and out like the wind. There have been reported sightings of him at the odd Premier League ground in the last month or two but nothing substantial.

Direct phone calls are impossible, even if they were encouraged, simply because we hacks are not multilingual and the potential for chaos is just too big.

So we sit and chew our nails while he sifts through a mound of DVDs and hatches his plans for Poland.

It didn't help that he pulled the shutter down on his squad so early in the fallow spell between qualification and the main event.

Once the protests at James McClean's (pictured) apparent exclusion had died down, we settled into the same routine: keep an eye on the Irish players and pray for Richard Dunne.

At least today's FA Cup semi-final allows us to consider the claims of Darron Gibson for a place in the team; for once a big game with some local interest.

The fact we have no Irish players involved at the sharp end of the Premier League hasn't helped either.

Trap's best players are more likely to be duking it out at the wrong end of the table and watching Wolves spiral towards relegation has been no fun.

The collateral damage to Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt has been worrying although at least Stephen Ward can take some consolation from his promotion to club captain under Terry Connor.

Hunt must be desperate for football after a groin operation and is clearly a Euro 2012 doubt, suggesting that McClean must be inching closer to Poland.

James McCarthy is putting in the hard yards in Wigan's engine room but his form has certainly not been notable enough to make his selection inevitable.

Anything but. The certainty is still there that Trapattoni will not waver when he comes to naming his final squad.


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