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Italian has special words for Jose but focus is on passing test against Paraguay

GIOVANNI Trapattoni is one of the few men in world football who Jose Mourinho might listen to and learn from -- from one Special One to another, so to speak.

"I spoke with him when he was in Austria," said Trap yesterday when asked about Mourinho's progress towards Real Madrid.

"I said he would win the Champions League and he's now done it twice. When a manager changes country, it's important that he understand straight away which type of football is played.

"Mourinho immediately understood English football when he joined Chelsea and, in Italy, he immediately understood Italian football. I sent him my best wishes because it is some achievement to win three trophies in one season."

Not surprisingly, Trapattoni expects Mourinho to understand Spanish football immediately and would not write-off the possibility of another Champions League season to come for him.

"Real is Real, he has a great team, I don't know if he can (win titles) -- Barca are Barca, every game will be tough in La Liga but he has experience now, England, Italy and Portugal," Trap said.

After giving Jose his due, Trapattoni moved onto the pressing business of Paraguay and the challenge facing his players at The RDS tonight.

"The last game Paraguay played in Austria, it was a friendly but I also saw qualification games. They will press, they have technical skill, they are strong -- (Jonathan) Santana, (Salvador) Cabanas, (Nelson Haedo) Valdez.

"Paraguay are a strong team, they are very good attacking-wise and, for our defence, it will be a great test."

Trap liked what he saw during last week's training camp and was also pleasantly surprised that all his senior additions came back from a break without any extra kilos to carry.

More than that, he believes that he is now working with a strong squad and one which can carry Irish hopes into the Euro 2012 qualifiers with confidence.

"I am not arrogant, but we are sure we are a strong team. They showed us against Italy and France, and we need to keep this same level.

"I spoke with Marco (Tardelli) and we were saying this group is a great group -- they showed us that against Brazil, against Italy and against France. They played better than, or at the same level as, those teams.


"I saw a very good training session. I see the players with the same mentality. You can see immediately, we are not on holiday.

"When you wear this shirt, there isn't a friendly game because of our pride and our mentality. That is important.

"I know the group will be difficult and we will need all our players to be fit, but I have seen many games and I think we can qualify because this group is strong."

Trapattoni hailed Damien Duff as one of the most important men in the Irish qualifying effort and the Irish boss is praying that the Fulham man stays fit enough to play a full part.

"Duff one of the best players in the Europa (League) final. He was a little bit tired but he played fantastic.

"Watching him over the past few days, I said 'Marco, he hasn't finished the season, he didn't look tired, or underperforming or injured'.

"Myself and Marco, we prayed to God that Duff doesn't get injured. Maybe I'll give him a little rest. I hope he remains like this."

Trapattoni will watch Kieren Westwood closely to see how he copes with a step up in standard, but he doesn't have any real concerns about his goalkeeping options should Shay Given not make it back in time for the start of next season.

"He has a personality and presence that I like," said Trap about Westwood. "He won't be emotional or affected by the game."

Trapattoni's own emotions were tugged from one extreme to another over the week, but positive news about Shane Duffy lifted everyone in the Irish camp.

"I have spoken with our doctors and he is conscious. We are optimistic and all the doctors are optimistic," said Trapattoni of Duffy.

"They think in about three or four months, he can play. But it is important he is fit, he is conscious and he is not in danger as he was in the first two days."