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Hoolahan thrown a Euro lifeline by Trap

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI has told Wesley Hoolahan that there could still be room for him on board the Irish team's flight to Poland for the Euro 2012 finals.

With the tournament now 56 days away, time is getting tight for fringe players to force their way into the final 23-man squad, which will be named by Trapattoni in Dublin early next month. The Ireland boss has confirmed that the squad for the friendly against Bosnia, which will be announced on Monday, May 7, will effectively be his final squad for the Euro 2012 tournament.

Trapattoni admitted when speaking yesterday to the media in the Tuscan city of Montecatini -- the venue for a week-long training camp for the Ireland team at the end of May -- that it will be "a great pity" for him personally to exclude players from the squad.

Hoolahan had accepted that he would be one of the ones who failed to make the cut, and last week the in-form Norwich City man told the Evening Herald that he was planning to go to the finals in Poland even if Trapattoni failed to pick him -- Hoolahan intending on going as a regular punter with his mates from Dublin who were doing the whole campervan experience.

But that seat in the campervan could possibly be swapped for a seat on the plane, now that Trapattoni, who capped Hoolahan just once way back in 2008, has raised the possibility of the former Shelbourne man making a late bid for the squad, partly due to the impression Hoolahan made on Trap when the Ireland boss went to see Norwich against Wolves three weeks ago.



IMPROVED

"Hoolahan has improved very much," said Trapattoni, beaming a broad smile when asked about Hoolahan, who featured in a training camp in Portugal and a friendly against Colombia in the early days of the Trap regime, in 2008.

"When I called him in first in Portugal, the team was too small. We had players like Wes Hoolahan and Andy Reid, they were too little. But Hoolahan, I have spoken to Marco (Tardelli) about him, he has been fantastic.

"We have already James McCarthy and McClean, this is not the campaign for too many young players, but Hoolahan is not young, he is 30.

"We think about him. He played well for Norwich in the last game I saw, he played in a specialist position behind the strikers. I have thought about him and we will consider this option.

"We have a system and maybe it's too late to change that system.

"I don't forget Hoolahan, and maybe he will be there for the next campaign for the World Cup," said the Ireland boss, who was also due to press the flesh with the local media in Montecatini, a spa town in Tuscany popular with tourists. The wife of former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was one of the big names to visit recently, as she stayed in the same hotel that will house the Ireland squad for a week in May, before their friendly in Hungary.

Trapattoni has expressed his satisfaction with the facilities that Ireland will use here during their week-long stay, and the FAI are determined to make sure that there will be no repeat of Saipan in terms of facilities.

Ireland will train at the home ground of Serie D side US Borgo a Buggiano, and, whereas Mick McCarthy was uncertain of what to expect when he arrived in Saipan, Trap knows the place, which is close to Florence, inside out.

"The pitch and the training ground is fantastic, we will have no problems here," he said.

"I have been here before, when I was coach of Fiorentina, I took the team here to train many times.

"The climate is fantastic, not too hot and not too cold. Me and Marco are famous around here. I was coach of Fiorentina and Marco was born around here, so people here know us."

Trap insists that his days are busy, watching DVDs of Ireland's Euro 2012 opponents in action, and he's also been checking out games involving Bosnia and Hungary, our opponents in warm-up friendlies, ahead of the finals.

But he's also been keeping up to date with the injury situation in the squad. Richard Dunne, out since February with a collarbone injury, is the main concern but John O'Shea's calf strain, which has kept him out of the Sunderland side recently, is also a minor worry.

"I am optimistic about Richard Dunne. Two days ago I was in touch with him and he was very confident. He said to me, 'Giovanni, I am well, I am sure I can play in the last game in the Premier League'. The recovery from his operation is going well," said Trap.



FIT

"I was in touch on Wednesday with Glenn Whelan because he didn't play in Stoke's last game but he said he was okay, the manager just wanted to leave him on the bench.

"And I also checked with Stephen Hunt, we spoke to the doctor at his club but he is sure he can be fit for us.

"I spoke to John O'Shea. He said he had an injury but he will be ready for the next game. I have also been in touch with Damien Duff and Aiden McGeady and McGeady says he is fine. He said he was injured but he is now fit to play."

There are other concerns, however. It's a good sign that Shay Given is fit and well with Aston Villa these days as back-up keepers Keiren Westwood (Sunderland) and David Forde (Millwall) are not getting any club football while McGeady is going through a hard time at Spartak Moscow, with just two starts in eight games for the side since the Russian season resumed after the winter break.

But if he's concerned, Trap's not showing it. "I am only worried about injury. I am not worried if two or three players do not play for their clubs," he says.

"Once they come in with us in May, after three or four days they will be fine and they will be ready.

"It is better that they are not tired and that they are fresh for us.

"I am not worried if they miss three or four games, it's not a problem for us, we have a week to prepare in Dublin and then time in Italy and in Hungary."


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